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This volume of selections from the poems of Coleridge has 
been prepared with the purpose of giving to students a full and 
profitable acquaintance with the poet's work and place in liter- 
ature. As a "college entrance requirement," the colleges ask 
only for one poem, the Ancient Mariner, a selection that is unfair 
to the student as well as to the poet, since the probabihty is 
strong that he will never reach Coleridge again in his student 
days, and the poet will remain to him for years, perhaps for life, 
a poet of one poem. This misrepresentative method of study- 
ing literature in isolated fragments is much to be deprecated. 

In the introduction and notes, material is furnished for a 
complete w^orking equipment for student and teacher, so that 
within the limits of this volume a satisfactory treatment of the 
poet may be accomplished; but as time permits, additional 
material should be obtained from outside sources, a guide to 
which will be found in the bibliographical list. 

The text of the poems is that of the standard edition edited 
by J. Dykes Campbell, which conforms essentially to that of the 
edition of 1829, the last to receive the personal correction of the 
poet. For any thorough study of Coleridge's life and works 
Campbell's biography and textual annotations are now indis- 
pensable, and every editor must give to him the most cordial 
acknowledgment of large obligations. 


This series of books will include in complete editions 
those masterpieces of English Literature that are best adapted 
for the use of schools and colleges. The editors of the 
several volumes will be chosen for their special qualifications 
in connection with the texts to be issued under their indi- 
vidual supervision, but familiarity with the practical needs 
of the classroom, no less than sound scholarship, will char- 
acterize the editing of every book in the series. 

In connection with each text, a critical and historical 
introduction, including a sketch of the life of the author and 
his relation to the thought of his time, critical opinions of 
the work in question chosen from the great body of English 
criticism, and, where possible, a portrait of the author, will 
be given. Ample explanatory notes of such passages in the 
text as call for special attention will be supplied, but irrel- 
evant annotation and explanations of the obvious will be 
rigidly excluded. 






Biographical Sketch 7 

Coleridge as a Talker 20 

Coleridge as a Poet 22 

The Ancient Mariner 24 

Criticism of the Ancient Mariner 30 

Christabel 32 

Criticism of Christabel 35 

KuBLA Khan 37 

Dejection: An Ode 39 

France: An Ode 40 

Topics for Discussion and Research . . , . 42 

Bibliography . 43 


The Ancient Mariner 47 

Christabel 74 

KuBLA Khan 99 

The Pains of Sleep 101 

Dejection: An Ode .......... 103 



COLERIDGE'S FOEMS ~ Continued : page 

Youth and Age 108 

Answer to a Child's Question 110 

Sonnet: To the River Otter Ill 

France: An Ode Ill 


The Ancient Mariner 117 

Christabel 138 

KuBLA Khan 143 

The Pains of Sleep 144 

Dejection: An Ode 145 

Youth and Age 148 

Answer to a Child's Question 149 

Sonnet: To the River Otter 149 

France: An Ode 150 



At Ottery St. Mary, in beautiful Devonshire, Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge was born, October 21, 1772. The father, vicar of the 
parish and head master of the Free Grammar School, was an 
amiable eccentric, with some scholarly knowledge and much 
innocent pedantry; "a perfect Parson Adams," the poet says, 
"in learning, good-heartedness, absentness of mind, and exces- 
sive ignorance of the world." The mother was a good practical 
housewife, with a fine scorn for "your harpsichord ladies," and 
a strong ambition to have her sons become gentlemen. All 
told, there were thirteen children in the family, of whom the 
poet was the youngest. At three years of age he attended a 
dame's school and at six he entered his father's school, where he 
"soon outstripped" all of his age. 

As a lad, Coleridge was precocious and strange, showing early 
symptoms of the illustrious infirmities of later years. He cared 
little for the ordinary sports of boys, and naturally was tor- 
mented by them into isolation. Reading and dreaming were 
his chief occupations and joys. "At six years of age," he says, 
"I remember to have read Belisarius, Robinson Crusoe, and 
Philip Quarll; and then I found the Arabian Nights' Entertain- 
ments, one tale of which made so deep an impression on me . . . 
that I was haunted by specters whenever I was in the dark. . . . 
My father found out the efTect which these books had pro- 
duced, and burned them. So I became a dreamer, and acquired 
an indisposition to all bodily activity . . . and before I was 
eight years old I was a character." 

In the boy's ninth year, the father died, and the next year the 



little dreamer was sent to the famous charity school, Christ's 
Hospital, in London, which became his home for nine years. 
In Frost at Midnight, he says : 

"I was reared 
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim. 
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars." 

Among the seven hundred " blue-coat " boys the youthful exile 
found a sympathetic companion in Charles Lamb, who became 
his life-long friend. The imagination loves to picture these two 
frail boys, marked for immortal fame, wandering about the 
streets of London, as we to-day see the boys of Christ's, in that 
antique garb — a long, blue coat, reaching nearly to the heels 
and buttoned straight to the neck in front, with yellow stock- 
ings, low shoes, a white stock, and bare head. Christ's was a 
school of stern experiences in those days, hard fare, hard lessons, 
and hard floggings being the law of the boys' daily life. But 
the headmaster, the Rev. James Boyer, in spite of his Rhada- 
manthine methods, instructed the boys thoroughly well in 
Latin and Greek, and in the elements of manliness. "Thank 
Heaven," says Coleridge, "I was flogged instead of being flat- 

No severity of discipline could keep the visionary boy out of 
that world of romance and ideality which he had early created 
for himself. Once he was rushing along the street swinging his 
arms as if swimming, and, happening to hit a stranger's pocket 
with his hand, he was seized as a thief. Upon explaining that 
he thought himself Leander swimming the Hellespont, the man 
gave him a subscription to a circulating library. This providen- 
tial supply of reading he rapidly devoured, "running all risks 
in skulking out to get the two volumes which I was entitled to 
have daily." His vagaries were not always so happy in their 
final issue. At one time, thinking himself an infidel, to escape 
being a minister he planned to run away and become appren- 
ticed to a shoemaker; but master Boyer intervened with his 
characteristic application of common sense. "So, sirrah, you 


are an infidel, are you? Then 111 flog your infidelity out of 
you," and a summary conversion was effected. 

Coleridge's reading during these school years was prodigious 
not only in its quantity and variety, but also in its profundity. 
A brother came to London to study in the hospitals, and so he 
"became wild to be apprenticed to a surgeon," he says; "Eng- 
lish, Latin, yea, Greek books of medicine read I incessantly." 
A Latin medical dictionary he learned "nearly by heart." But 
this interest soon gave way to "a rage for metaphysics," and he 
read deeply in the Neo-Platonists and Church Fathers. "At a 
very premature age, even before my fifteenth year, I had be- 
wildered myself in metaphysics, and in theological controversy." 
For a time history, even poetry, had no interest for him. His 
greatest delight was to meet "any passenger, especially if he 
were dressed in black," with whom he could bring about a dis- 
cussion of his favorite theme, "providence, foreknowledge, will, 
and fate." It was of Coleridge at about this time that Lamb's 
famous sketch portrait was drawn. "Come back into memory, 
like as thou wert in the day-spring of thy fancies, with hope like 
a fiery column before thee — the dark pillar not yet turned — 
Samuel Taylor Coleridge — Logician, Metaphysician, Bard! — 
How have I seen the casual passer through the cloisters stand 
still, entranced with admiration (while he weighed the dispro- 
portion between the speech and the garb of the young Mirandula), 
to hear thee unfold, in thy deep and sweet intonations, the 
mysteries of Jamblichus, or Plotinus (for even in those years 
thou waxedst not pale at such philosophic draughts), or reciting 
Homer in his Greek, or Pindar — while the walls of the old Grey 
Friars re-echoed to the accents of the inspired charity boy ! ' ' 

From "this preposterous pursuit" of metaphysics, as he after- 
wards called it, Coleridge was reconverted to the pursuit of 
beauty and things of the imagination through a rather surpris- 
ing agency. He read the Sonnets of William Lisle Bowles and 
discovered a new heaven and a new earth in poetry. With 
"impetuous zeal," he labored to win other appreciative readers, 
and with his own pen made forty copies of the sonnets as presents 


for his friends. Four years later, Wordsworth made the same 
discovery, and kept his brother waiting on Westminster Bridge 
while he read the volume through. This modest little collection 
of twenty-one sonnets seems to-day innocent enough of any 
such moving power, and one wonders what would have been the 
effect if Coleridge had first come upon Cowper and Burns. What 
surprised and transported him in these sonnets was the revela- 
tion of poetic simplicity and sincerity, and love of natural beauty, 
qualities strangely different from the placid conventionalisms 
of eighteenth-century poetry; and so for the time being the 
pensive Bowles became to Coleridge ''the god of my idola- 

In 1791 Coleridge entered Jesus College, Cambridge. Of his 
university life few details have survived. He won a gold medal 
for a Sapphic Ode, and just missed success in a close contest for 
a prize scholarship. A fellow student described his reading as 
"desultory and capricious." His scholarship apparently made 
no real impression except through the remarkalole conversational 
powers for which he was distinguished throughout his life. 
Students flocked to his rooms to hear him discourse upon the 
exciting political issues of the time, when he would recite "whole 
passages verbatim" from the latest political pamphlets. Near 
the end of his second year occurred the most conspicuous episode 
of which we have any knowledge. Suddenly he went up to 
London and enlisted in the King's Light Dragoons, under the 
name of Silas Tomkyn Comberbach (S.T.C.) — an appropriate 
name, he afterwards suggested, as he presented but a sorry ap- 
pearance upon a horse's back. Four months of soldiering was 
quite enough, and he managed to reveal his situation to friends, 
who procured his release and return to the university. This 
singular freak he attributed to debts and disappointment in 
love, but the real explanation is found in a constitutional in- 
stability of purpose, a tendency to pursue the fresh suggestions 
of impulse, new schemes of alluring colors, ignes fatui, that led 
him a deploral:)le race with the stern realities of life. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that a few months after the military ad- 


venture he left the university altogether, decoyed by a new 
appeal to his restless and romantic temperament. 

While visiting a friend in Oxford, he met Robert Southey, a 
young enthusiast like himself, filled with the radicalism and 
democracy of the French Revolution. A friendship was at 
once established, a partnership tragedy was written, The Fall 
of Robespierre, which Coleridge published at Cambridge; and out 
of a kinship of ideals was swiftly evolved the Utopian scheme of 
Pantisocracy, a state of individual and social perfection which 
was to be realized in a sort of communal paradise, established on 
the banks of the Susquehanna. For a time Pantisocracy was 
made famous in university circles, especially through the elo- 
quence of Coleridge, and other idealists were enlisted in the 
project; but the very material consideration of the money re- 
quired to emigrate to America was finally reached, and upon 
this rock the beautiful scheme went to pieces; not, however, 
until Coleridge's university career had been wrecked. 

Coleridge now entered upon practical life, with a most un- 
practical grasp upon its responsibilities. Pantisocracy with its 
rose-colored idealism and inherent elements of disaster, was 
symbolical of his management of all of life's material problems. 
He began with a course of lectures, in Bristol, upon the burning 
question of liberty, which he called Consciones ad Populum. 
In October, 1795, in Chatterton's church of St. Mary Redchffe, 
he was married to Miss Sara Fricker, whose sister Edith, a 
month later, became the wife of his friend Southey. The young 
couple settled at Clevedon, in a "pretty cot," over which "thick 
jasmines twined," where they could hear — 

"At silent noon, and eve, and early morn, 
The sea's faint murmur." 

The happiness of this first home is recorded in The Eolian Harp 
and Reflections on having left a Place of Retirement. 

A generous publisher of Bristol, Joseph Cottle, offered Cole- 
ridge a guinea and a half for every hundred lines of poetry he 
would write. Upon this insubstantial vision of golden harvests 


as a basis, he set up his domestic estabhshment. In 1797 he 
published his first volume of poetry, entitled Poems on Various 
Subjects, including in the volume three sonnets by his friend 
Lamb. He started a weekly magazine, called The Watchman, 
which came to an impecunious end with the tenth number. 
Very soon he proved — to his friends, if not to himself — how 
precarious is literature as a trade to live by, especially when 
carried on by a genius. He wrote poems and book-reviews for 
the magazines, planned great works which came to nothing, 
preached in Unitarian chapels, but without pay; he received 
gifts and loans from friends; he took into his family as a boarder 
and pupil, Charles Lloyd, a wealthy young man of literary am- 
bition, who became one of the "Lakers." But his finances 
became increasingly chaotic, and in deep distress he writes, 
"my anxieties eat me up." 

A small cottage at Nether Stowey, provided by his friend, 
Thomas Poole, into which he moved in 1797, seemed to promise 
a happy remedy for all his ills. Here he will become a farmer, 
"and there can be no shadow of a doubt that an acre and a half 
of land, divided properly, and managed properly, will maintain 
a small family in everything but clothes and rent." He will 
give up meat and strong liquors, both of which are "perceptibly" 
injurious. "Sixteen shillings," he estimates, will "cover all the 
weekly expenses." To a friend who suggested the loneliness of 
so remote a place he replied: "I shall have six companions: my 
Sara, my babe, my own shaping and disquisitive mind, my 
books, my beloved friend, Thomas Poole, and lastly, Nature 
looking at me with a thousand looks of beauty, and speaking to 
me in a thousand melodies of love." And literature, "though I 
shall never abandon it, will always be a secondary object with 
me. My poetic vanity and my political furor have been ex- 
haled; and I would rather be an expert, self-maintaining gar- 
dener than a Milton, if I could not unite both." 

It is worth while to dwell at some length upon this bucolic 
dream, for in its fragmentary realization Coleridge came nearer 
to peace and happiness than was ever his fortune again. Soon 


after he was settled at Stowey, the most important event of his 
hfe occurred; at Racedown he met Wordsworth and his sister 
Dorothy, and mutual admiration ripened quickly into a friend- 
ship that linked together forever the names of these two poets. 
In a few weeks Wordsworth and his sister removed to Alfoxden, 
a pleasant country house near the sea, three miles from Stowey, 
their ''principal inducement being," as Dorothy wrote, "Cole- 
ridge's society." For about a year the two poets were together 
almost daily; both were great walkers, and the Quantock hills 
echoed in all directions their high talk of poetry and the poetic 
art; and in those delightful rambles a new age of English poetry 
began. A literary partnership was formed and the epoch- 
making volume of Lyrical Ballads was published in September, 

That Coleridge received more from this friendship than Words- 
worth, there can be no doubt. From Wordsworth's lofty and 
steadfast purposes his emotional and receptive nature absorbed 
quickly the influence needed to stimulate and concentrate his 
best creative energies. Indeed, it is safe to say that without 
this influence Coleridge would have remained the second-rate 
poet of vagrant thought and voluminous expression found in 
his early writing. The year 1797-8, the period of this associa- 
tion, is called Coleridge's annus mirabilis, the wonderful year; 
for in this brief period he wrote essentially all the poetry upon 
which his fame as a poet rests, the Ancient Mariner, the first 
part of Christabel, the Ode to France, Kuhla Khan, Frost at Mid- 
night, Fears in Solitude, and The Nightingale. 

About this time Coleridge received an annuity of £150 from 
the Wedgewood brothers, sons of the famous potter; the only 
condition of the gift was that he should devote himself entirely 
to the highest intellectual pursuits. With this bountiful provi- 
dence to attend him, he set out for Germany, accompanied by 
Wordsworth and his sister. Nine months were devoted to the 
mastering of the German language, literature, and philosophy, a 
feat which, through his omnivorous powers of acquisition, he 
approximately accomplished. The most immediate result of 


this German excursion was a translation of Schiller's Wallen- 
stein, of which Scott remarked: "Coleridge has made Schiller's 
Wallenstein far finer than he found it." Other results of these 
studies appeared later in the field of his philosophical specula- 

In the autumn of 1799, Coleridge and Wordsworth made a 
tour through the Lake Country, and in this visit the poetic fame 
of this region had its birth. They were especially charmed by 
the beauties of Grasmere, and here Wordsworth and his sister 
at once settled, in Dove Cottage, which to-day is a shrine of 
devoted pilgrimage. Six months later Coleridge found a home 
at Greta Hall, Keswick, twelve miles from Dove Cottage. The 
distance did not keep the friends apart long at a time, for to 
these peripatetic poets a brisk walk of twelve miles was only a 
stimulating exercise, when there was a reading and discussion of 
each other's poems in anticipation at the end. Interesting 
glimpses of these visits back and forth between Dove Cottage 
and Greta Hall, as })etween Stowey and Alfoxden, are given in 
Dorothy Wordsworth's faithful journals. In 1803 Southey 
with his family visited the Coleridges, and the visit was extended 
into a life-long residence. For ten years Greta Hall was nom- 
inally the home of Coleridge, and became permanently the home 
of his wife and children, who were finally left to the brotherly 
care of Southey. 

The culmination of Coleridge's work as a poet was reached in 
1802, when he published Dejection: an Ode, a pathetic confession 
of powers shattered and hopes unrealized. After this he wrote 
no more poetry of high merit. Henceforth, his life was a tragic 
decline, a losing fight against himself. The tragedies of life are 
the products of ignorance and weakness, but Nemesis accepts 
no excuses. Coleridge was not ignorant, and the knowledge of 
his weakness increased his suffering, while he paid the penalty 
of accumulated errors. He complains of the "God Pecunia," 
who compels him to write political articles for the Morning 
Post — Pegasus in the harness of a newspaper hack. But 
other and greater powers of evil than poverty were devastating 


his life. The demon of ill health was his familiar companion, 
in league always with the demon of procrastination, furnishing 
plausible excuses for wasted time and evaded obligations. 
The unsympathetic Hazhtt said that "Coleridge was capable 
of doing anything which did not present itself as a duty." There 
was also the demon of domestic infelicity. His marriage was 
hasty and proved to be "most ill-starred." But possibly there 
could be only incompatibility between a practical-minded wife, 
devoted to her children, and a husband disposed to substitute 
philosophical speculations for the substantial necessities of the 
household. He complained that she did not understand his 
philosophy, and she complained that he did not understand his 
duty to his children, and both were right. The solution was 
characteristic of his calamitous weakness; in 1810 he abandoned 
his home altogether. 

There was another demon greater than all that presided over 
the majestic ruin of Coleridge's Hfe, the demon of opium. From 
an early period he was a frequent sufferer from rheumatism, 
neuralgia, gout, and other ailments, partly inherited from the 
recklessness of youth. In 1797 he speaks of taking an opiate 
to alleviate pain, and by the year 1803 the opium habit had 
become estabhshed as a dissipation. In 1826, when he had 
measurably subdued the fiend, he wrote: "Alas! it is with a 
bitter smile, a laugh of gall and bitterness, that I recall this 
period of unsuspecting delusion, and how I first became aware 
of the maelstrom, the fatal whirlpool to which I was drawing, 
just when the current was beyond my strength to stem." De 
Quincey asserts, rather too positively, that opium "killed 
Coleridge as a poet." Certain it is that under its influence his 
poetic imagination seemed to be paralyzed, and an interest in 
metaphysical studies almost entirely supplanted the old poetic 

In 1804 Coleridge went to Malta for his health, and in about 
two years returned, "ill, penniless, and worse than homeless," 
he wrote to Wedgewood. He contributed- to the London papers; 
started another magazine called The Friend, which failed like 


The Watchman; gave lectures upon Shakspere, the fragmentary- 
notes and reports of which have made him famous as a critic; 
completed a tragedy, Remorse, which through the aid of Byron 
was accepted and successfully acted at Drury Lane Theater. 
Jn 1816 he published Christabel, which had long been lying in 
manuscript, and the next year he published the chief collection 
of his poems under the title Sibylline Leaves, ''in allusion," he 
says, "to the fragmentary and wildly scattered state in which 
they had been long suffered to remain." During these years, 
1804-1816, he was never long in one place, dodging in and out 
of London, appearing suddenly at one friend's house and then 
at another's, where a flying visit would often be prolonged into 
a residence of weeks or months. Naturally, he was always in 
financial distress, and his strenuous borrowing from friends 
in any but a poet and philosopher would be regarded as little 
better than begging. Old friends gradually fell away, through 
exhausted forbearance, but there were always new ones to pull 
him out of trouble. New acquaintances he impressed as the 
ideal genius, sadly unfortunate, frail of will and irresponsible, 
it might be, but brilliant and fascinating; so homes and hearts 
were readily opened to him. His active mind was constantly 
evolving great literary and philosophical projects that were 
never carried beyond the title page, such as this: "Logosophia, 
or On the Logos, Human and Divine, in Six Treatises." Pub- 
lishers even sometimes advanced money on these mythical 
works. As early as his trip to Germany, he said accurately of 
his "waverings" of mind: "This is the disease of my mind — it 
is comprehensive in its conceptions and wastes itself in the 
contemplation of the many things which it might do." This 
"disease" had now been so increased by opium that his mind 
was capable of little else than metaphysical meanderings. 

In 1816 Coleridge took heroic measures to overcome the 
opium habit, under which both health and mind were giving 
way. He put himself in the hands of a physician, and arranged 
for systematic treatment in the home of Mr. Gillman, at High- 
gate, just outside of London. Here he spent the remaining 


years of his life, in comparative peace and happiness. Under 
the patient and loving care of Mr. and Mrs. Gillman, whom he 
described in his will as ''his more than friends, the guardians of 
his health, happiness, and interests," he recovered in large 
measure from the effects of the "detested poison," and renewed 
with more system and efficiency his literary activity. He now 
published his most important prose works, the Aids to Reflection, 
a book of religious meditations that was once widely popular, 
and the Biographia Literaria, a work containing little biography, 
but much and important literary criticism, profound in the 
analysis and exposition of poetic principles. This book and the 
Table Talk, notes of conversations written down by his nephew 
and son-in-law, Henry Nelson Coleridge, are the only prose 
works of Coleridge that attract readers to-day. 

During these last years, Coleridge wrote little poetry, but one 
fragment, composed in 1827 and entitled. Work without Hope, is 
of peculiar interest, being perhaps the saddest lines a poet ever 
wrote of himself. He contrasts the spring, awakening to new 
life and productive energy, with his own dead and decaying 
powers : 

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair — 

The bees are stirring — birds are on the wing — 

And Winter, slumbering in the open air, 

Wears on his smihng face a dream of Spring! 

And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing. 

Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing. 

Yet well I ken the banks where Amaranths blow, 
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow. 
Bloom, O ye Amaranths! bloom for whom ye may. 
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams away! 
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll: 
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul? 
Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve. 
And HOPE without an object cannot live. 

Coleridge died in 1834, and the body that had done him such 
"grievous wrong" was laid in High gate Churchyard. Few even 
of his admiring friends understood how great a light had gone 


out. When the news reached Wordsworth, he was deeply 
moved and spoke of Coleridge as ''the most wonderful man that 
he had ever known." "His great and dear spirit haunts me," 
wrote Charles Lamb; "never saw I his likeness, nor probably 
the world can see again." There were three surviving children. 
Hartley, the oldest son, was a poet and essayist, gentle, lovable, 
and talented, but deprived of high achievement by intemper- 
ance. He spent his life in the Lake Country, near to Words- 
worth, where his father had predicted he would "wander like a 
breeze." Derwent was a teacher, rector, and linguist, possess- 
ing something of his father's brilliant conversational gift. His 
daughter, Sarah, was distinguished for her intellectual acquire- 
ments, as well as for beauty and grace of personality. Her 
fine qualities are affectionately celebrated by Wordsworth in 
The Triad. 

Coleridge's personal appearance has been described by many 
of his friends and contemporaries. The description of him by 
Dorothy Wordsworth as he was in the Stowey days is among 
the most celebrated of the word portraits. "He is a wonderful 
man," she writes in her journal. "His conversation teems with 
soul, mind, and spirit. Then he is so benevolent, so good-tem- 
pered and cheerful, and, like William, interests himself so much 
about every httle trifle. At first I thought him very plain, that 
is for about three minutes; he is pale, thin, has a wide mouth, 
thick lip, and not very good teeth, longish, loose-growing, half- 
curling, rough-black hair. But if you hear him speak for five 
minutes, you think no more of them. His eye is large and full, 
and not very dark, but grey — such an eye as would receive 
from a heavy soul the dullest expression; but it speaks every 
emotion of his animated mind; it has more of 'the poet's eye in 
a fine frenzy rolling' than I ever witnessed. He has fine dark 
eyebrows, and an overhanging forehead." 

His appearance in the last days at Highgate is given in Car- 
lyle's powerfully drawn sketch: "The good man, he was now 
getting old, towards sixty perhaps; and gave you the idea of a 
life that had been full of sufferings; a life heavy-laden, half- 


vanquished, still swimming painfully in seas of manifold physical 
and other bewilderment. Brow and head were round, and of 
massive weight, but the face was flabby and irresolute. The 
deep eyes, of a light hazel, were as full of sorrow as of inspira- 
tion; confused pain looked wildly from them, as in a kind of 
mild astonishment. The whole figure and air, good and amiable 
otherwise, might be called flabby and irresolute; expressive of 
weakness under possibility of strength. He hung loosely on his 
limbs, with knees bent, and stooping attitude; in walking he 
rather shuffled than decisively stepped; and a lady once re- 
marked, he never could fix which side of the garden-walk would 
suit him best, but continually shifted in cork-screw fashion, and 
kept trying both. A heavy-laden, high-aspiring and surely 
much-suffering man." 

The character of Coleridge is easily misinterpreted, if the ex- 
ternal facts of his personal history alone are considered. His 
great spirit, in spite of its incumbrances, was one of the strongest 
purifying and elevating influences of the nineteenth century. 
The clear stream of his poetry testifies to the crystal purity of 
the fountain head. Through noble sentiments, rational criti- 
cism, and the lofty reach of his philosophical thought he in- 
fluenced and guided the finest minds of the century. He was 
the father of modern Shaksperian study, and laid the broad basis 
of modern criticism through sympathetic interpretation. He 
introduced German literature and philosophy into England, and 
sowed the seeds of transcendentalism, gathered from Kant and 
Schelling, which came to blossom and fruitage in the writings of 
Emerson. His Aids to Reflection and other religious and theo- 
logical writings led to the Broad Church movement with which 
Frederick Maurice and Dean Stanley were identified. His 
poetry was a direct creative force; of the Romantic School he may 
justly be regarded as the founder; the fragmentary Christabel, 
which was read, recited, and admired some years before publica- 
tion, was the model followed by Scott and Byron in their famous 
metrical romances and tales. The Preraphael movement of 
Rossetti and his friends of the "Brotherhood," which Theodore 


Watts-Dunton has defined as "the renaissance of the spirit of 
wonder in poetry and art," was indebted directly to Coleridge 
for much of its initial impulse. Such briefly is the summary of 
the achievements of Coleridge as poet, critic, and "subtle-souled 


Among his contemporaries, Coleridge's chief influence was 
exerted through his marvelous conversational power. "He 
distinguished himself," says Carlyle, "to all that ever heard 
him as the most surprising talker extant in this world. " Through 
this perishable form of expression he loved best, and was best 
able fully, to translate himself. "I think, Charles, you never 
heard me preach," he once remarked to Lamb, who replied, "I 
never heard you do anything else." His lectures, according to 
all accounts, differed little from his ordinary talks, except in the 
number of the audiences. Highgate became famous as a resort 
for the eager-minded young men of the period, Avho listened 
reverently to the great sage's discourse, like disciples at the feet 
of a prophet. Among the more casual visitors was Emerson, 
who found the visit to be "rather a spectacle than a conversa- 
tion." Upon the mention of Dr. Channing's name, "he burst 
into a declamation upon the folly and ignorance of Unitarian- 
ism." When, during a pause for breath, Emerson interposed 
that he himself had been born and bred a LTnitarian, Coleridge 
replied, "'Yes, I supposed so,' and continued as before." 

Of those who visited Highgate, Carlyle has left the most cele- 
brated account of what was experienced there. "Coleridge sat 
on the brow of Highgate Hill, in those years, looking down on 
London and its smoke-tumult, like a sage escaped from the 
inanity of life's battle; attracting towards him the thoughts of 
innumerable brave souls still engaged there. His express con- 
tributions to poetry, philosophy, or any specific province of 
human literature or enlightenment, had been small and sadly 
intermittent; but he had, especially among young inquiring 
men, a higher than literary, a kind of prophetic or magician 


character. He was thought to hold, he alone in England, the 
key of German and other Transcendentalisms; knew the subhme 
secret of believing by 'the reason' what 'the understanding' had 
been obhged to fling out as incredible. ... A sublime man; 
who, alone in those dark days, had saved his crown of spiritual 
manhood; escaping from the black materialisms, and revolu- 
tionary deluges, wuth 'God, Freedom, Immortality' still his: a 
king of men. The practical intellects of the world did not much 
heed him, or carelessly reckoned him a metaphysical dreamer; 
but to the rising spirits of the young generation he had this 
dusky sublime character; and sat there as a kind of Magus, girt 
in mystery and enigma. . . . Nothing could be more copious 
than his talk; and furthermore it was always, virtually or liter- 
ally, of the nature of a monologue; suffering no interruption, 
however reverent; hastily putting aside all foreign additions, 
annotations, or most ingenuous desires for elucidation, as well- 
meant superfluities which would never do. Besides, it was talk 
not flowing any whither like a river, but spreading every whither 
in inextricable currents and regurgitations like a lake or sea; 
terribly deficient in definite goal or aim, nay often in logical in- 
telligibility; what you were to believe or do, on any earthly or 
heavenly thing, obstinately refusing to appear from it. So that, 
most times, you felt logically lost; swamped near to drowning in 
this tide of ingenious vocables, spreading out boundless as if 
to submerge the world." 

John Sterling thus describes his first interview with Coleridge : 
"I w^as in his company about three hours; and of that time he 
spoke during two and three quarters. It would have been 
delightful to listen as attentively, and certainly easy for him to 
speak just as well, for the next forty-eight hours. On the whole, 
his conversation, or rather monologue, is by far the most in- 
teresting I ever heard or heard of. Dr. Johnson's talk, with 
which it is obvious to compare it, seems to me immeasurably 

Charles Lamb gives a striking instance of Coleridge's power: 
"I dined yesterday in Parnassus, with Wordsworth, Coleridge, 


Rogers, and Tom Moore — half the poetry of England constel- 
lated and clustered in Gloucester Place! It was a delightful 
evening! Coleridge was in his finest vein of talk — had all the 
talk; and let 'em talk as they will of the envy of poets, I am 
sure not one there but was content to be nothing but a listener. 
The Muses were dumb while Apollo lectured." 


"His best work is but little, but of its kind it is perfect and 
unique. For exquisite metrical movement and for imaginative 
fantasy, there is nothing in our language to be compared with 
Christabel, and Kubla Khan, and the Ancient Mariner. The 
little poem called Love is not so good, but it touches with great 
grace that with which all sympathize. All that he did excel- 
lently might be bound up in twenty pages, but it should be 
bound in pure gold." — Stop ford Brooke's Primer of English 

"Coleridge is the great Musician of the romantic school of 
English poetry. His practice is the exact antithesis of Words- 
worth's theory that there is no essential difference between the 
language of poetry and the language of prose. In him metrical 
movement is all in all. He was the first to depart from the 
lofty severe iambic movement which had satisfied the feeling 
of the eighteenth century, and, by associating picturesque 
images and antique phrases in melodious and flowing meters, to 
set the imagination free in a world quite removed from actual 
experience. His invention exercised a profound influence upon 
the course of English verse-composition." — Courthope's Liberal 
Movement in English Literature. 

"Even in the dilapidation of his powers, due chiefly, if you 
will, to his own unthrifty management of them, we might, mak- 
ing proper deductions, apply to him what Mark Antony says of 
the dead Cagsar: 


' He was the ruins of the noblest man 
That ever lived in the tide of time.' 

Whatever may have been his faults and weaknesses, he was the 
man of all his generation to whom we should most unhesitatingly 
allow the distinction of genius, that is, of one authentically 
possessed from time to time by some influence that made him 
better and greater than himself. If he lost himself too much in 
what Mr. Pater has admirably called 'impassioned contempla- 
tion,' he has at least left us such a legacy as only genius, and 
genius not always, can leave." — James Russell Lowell's Literary 
and Political Addresses. 

''Coleridge is conspicuous, to a degree beyond any other 
writer between Spenser and Rossetti, for a delicate, voluptuous 
languor, a rich melancholy, and a pitying absorption without 
vanity in his own conditions and frailties, carried so far that the 
natural objects of his verse take the qualities of the human 
Coleridge upon themselves. In Wordsworth we find a purer, 
loftier note, a species of philosophical severity which is almost 
stoic, a freshness of atmosphere which contrasts with Coleridge's 
opaline dream-haze, magnifying and distorting common things. 
Truth, sometimes pursued to the confines or past the confines of 
triviality, is Wordsworth's first object, and he never stoops to 
self-pity, rarely to self-study. Each of these marvelous poets 
is pre-eminently master of the phrase that charms and intoxi- 
cates, the sequence of simple words so perfect that it seems at 
once inevitable and miraculous. Yet here also a very distinct 
difference may be defined between the charm of Wordsworth 
and the magic of Coleridge. The former is held more under the 
author's control than the latter, and is less impulsive. It owes 
its impressiveness to a species of lofty candor which kindles at 
the discovery of some beautiful truth not seen before, and gives 
the full intensity of passion to its expression. The latter is a 
sort of Eolian harp (such as that with which he enlivened the 
street of Nether Stowey) over which the winds of emotion play, 
leaving the instrument often without a sound, or with none but 


broken murmurs, yet sometimes dashing from its chords a mel- 
ody, vague and transitory indeed, but of a most unearthly 
sweetness. Wordsworth was not a great metrist; he essayed 
comparatively few and easy forms, and succeeded best when 
he was at his simplest. Coleridge, on the other hand, was an 
innovator; his Christabel revolutionized Enghsh prosody and 
opened the door to a thousand experiments; in Kuhla Khan and 
in some of the lyrics, Coleridge attained a splendor of verbal 
melody which places him near the summit of the English Par- 
nassus." — Edmund Gosse's Moderii English Literature. 


Modern English poetry dates from the Lyrical Ballads, written 
in partnership by Wordsworth and Coleridge and published by 
Joseph Cottle, at Bristol, 1798. The young poets had been 
caught in the first whirlwind of the French Revolution, but had 
regained their footing, and now inaugurated a revolution in 
poetry. The little volume was as strange and radical a docu- 
ment as the new constitution of France. It was intended to 
be a protest against the mechanical and lifeless forms and stilted 
sentiments of eighteenth-century poetry, and an exposition of 
new sources of poetic truth and of more natural forms of ex- 
pression. These purposes were explained in a brief preface, 
contributed by Wordsworth, which in an expanded form in 
subsequent editions became the basis of modern poetic criticism. 

Two literary tendencies were prominent in the latter part 
of the eighteenth century, the return to nature for the inspira- 
tion and material of poetry, as in Cowper and Burns, and the 
revival of romanticism. Naturalism was already showing signs 
of weakness in becoming too natural, as in the dull matter-of- 
factness of Crabbe's poems; and romanticism was running into 
the wildest extravagance and absurdity in such tales as Wal- 
pole's Castle of Otranto, Mrs. Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, and 
"Monk" Lewis's Tales of Terror and Wonder. Naturahsm was 
in need of more imagination, and romanticism was in need of 
more truth. In prose Scott rescued the romance from ruin, and 


in poetry it was the work of Wordsworth and Coleridge, begun 
in the Lyrical Ballads, to give sanity and permanent power to 
both tendencies. 

Fortunately we have an account of the origin of this adven- 
turous little volume from each of the poets. Wordsworth tells 
the story as follows: 

"In the autumn of 1797, Mr. Coleridge, my sister, and myself 
started from Alfoxden pretty late in the afternoon with a view 
to visit Linton and the Valley of Stones near to it; and as our 
united funds were very small, we agreed to defray the expense 
of the tour by writing a poem to be sent to the New Monthly 
Magazine. Accordingly, we set ofT, and proceeded along the 
Quantock Hills towards Watchet; and in the course of this walk 
was planned the poem of the 'Ancient Mariner,' founded on a 
dream, as Mr. Coleridge said, of his friend Mr. Cruikshank. 
Much the greatest part of the story was Mr. Coleridge's inven- 
tion, but certain parts I suggested; for example, some crime was 
to be committed which should bring upon the Old Navigator, as 
Coleridge afterwards delighted to call him, the spectral perse- 
cution, as a consequence of that crime and his own wanderings, 
I had been reading in Shelvocke's ' Voyages,' a day or two before, 
that while doubling Cape Horn, they frequently saw albatrosses 
in that latitude, the largest sort of sea fowl, some extending their 
wings twelve or thirteen feet. 'Suppose,' said I, 'you represent 
him as having killed one of these birds on entering the South 
Sea, and that the tutelary spirits of these regions take upon 
them to avenge the crime.' The incident was thought fit for 
the purpose, and adopted accordingly. I also suggested the 
navigation of the ship by the dead men, but do not recollect that 
I had anything more to do with the scheme of the poem. The 
gloss with which it was subesquently accompanied was not 
thought of by either of us at the time, at least, not a hint of it 
was given to me, and I have no doubt it was a gratuitous after- 
thought. We began the composition together on that, to me, 
niemorable evening. I furnished two or three lines at the be- 
ginning of the poem, in particular 

'And listened like a three years' child: 
The Mariner had his will.' 

These trifling contributions, all but one, which Mr. C. has with 
unnecessary scrupulosity recorded, slipped out of his mind, as 
they well might. As we endeavored to proceed conjointly (I 


speak of the same evening), our respective manners proved so 
widely different that it would have been quite presumptuous in 
me to do anything but separate from an undertaking upon which 
I could only have been a clog. . . . The ' Ancient Mariner ' grew 
and grew till it became too important for our first object, which 
was limited to our expectation of five pounds; and we began to 
think of a volume which was to consist, as Mr. Coleridge has 
told the world, of poems chiefly on supernatural subjects, taken 
from common life, but looked at, as much as might be, through 
an imaginative medium." 

Coleridge's account is given in Chapter XIV of the Biographia 
Literaria as follows: 

" During the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neigh- 
bors, our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal 
points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the 
reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the 
power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colors 
of imagination. The sudden charm which accidents of light 
and shade, which moonlight or sunset diffused over a known 
and familiar landscape, appeared to represent the practicability 
of combining both. These are the poetry of nature. The 
thought suggested itself (to which of us I do not recollect) that 
a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the one, 
the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural; 
and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of 
the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would 
naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. 
And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, 
from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed 
himself under supernatural agency. For the second class, 
subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life; the characters 
and incidents were to be such as will be found in every village 
and its vicinity where there is a meditative and feeling mind to 
seek after them, or to notice them when they present themselves. 

"In this idea originated the plan of the Lyrical Ballads, in 
which it was agreed that my endeavors should be directed to 
persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet 
so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and 
a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of 
imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, 
which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth, on the other 
hand, was to propose to himself as his object, to give the charm 
of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analo- 


gous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind's attention 
from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness 
and the wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, 
but for which, in consequence of the film of familiarity and 
selfish solicitude, we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, 
and hearts that neither feel nor understand. 

''With this view I wrote the Ancient Mariner, and was pre- 
paring, among other poems, the Dark Ladie, and the Christahel, 
in which I should have more nearly realized mj'- ideal than I had 
done in my first attempt. But Mr. Wordsworth's industry had 
proved so much more successful, and the number of his poems 
so much greater, that my compositions, instead of forming a 
balance, appeared rather an interpolation of heterogeneous 
matter. Mr. Wordsworth added two or three poems written in 
his own character, in the impassioned, lofty, and sustained 
diction which is characteristic of his genius. In this form the 
Lyrical Ballads were published." 

The volume contained twenty-three poems, nineteen of them 
written by Wordsworth. The four contributed by Coleridge 
were the Ancient Mariner, The Foster-Mother's Tale, The Night- 
ingale: a Conversational Poem, and The Dungeon. Among 
Wordsworth's poems were illustrations of his best and his worst 
work. There were the Lines Written Above T intern Abbey, We 
are Seven, Expostulation and Reply, and The Tables Turned; but 
there were also Goody Blake and The Idiot Boy, which furnished 
a deal of merriment for the critics. The volume opened with 
the Ancient Mariner and closed with Tintern Abbey. The pub- 
lication was anonymous, with nothing to indicate that there 
were two authors. Before the book issued from the press the 
poets had set out for Germany, and they heard nothing of its 
fortune with the public for several months, except the cheering 
news from Mrs. Coleridge that "the Lyrical Ballads are not liked 
at all by any." 

The text of the Ancient Mariner was much changed by Cole- 
ridge in successive editions, portions being omitted and many 
passages being rewritten. The original title of the poem was 
The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere, in Seven Parts. The feature 
of extreme archaism in words and phrases was over-done at 
first; and was modified throughout the poem, in the second 


edition of the Lyrical Ballads, 1800. The title was changed to 
The Ancient Mariner, A Poet's Reverie. The "Argument" was 
rewritten as follows: 

"How a Ship having firgt sailed to the Equator, was driven 
by Storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; how the 
Ancient Mariner, cruelly, and in contempt of the laws of hos- 
pitality, killed a Sea-bird; and how he was followed by many 
strange Judgments; and in what manner he came back to his 
own Country." 

In the next two editions of the Lyrical Ballads, 1802 and 
1805, the Argument was omitted. It appeared again in Sibyl- 
line Leaves, the edition of 1817, together with more changes in 
thetext, the addition of the marginal gloss, and the motto from 
Burnet. These repeated alterations may suggest the poet's 
unstable mind, but in general they show a refinement and ripen- 
ing of critical judgment. Many changes of the text are given 
in the notes of this edition as illustrations of improvements. 

In response to the demand for "sources" of the poet's material, 
minute research has discovered a few hints, in addition to those 
mentioned by Wordsworth, which he may possibly have utilized. 
A quaint narrative published in 1633, Captain Thomas James's 
Strange and Dangerous Voyage . . . in his intended Discovery 
of the Northwest Passage into the South Sea, has some claim to 
honors of this kind. The extent of Coleridge's possible indebted- 
ness to this book is shown in the notes. The idea of the angelic 
navigation of the ship is thought to have been suggested by a 
story of a shipwreck in the "Letter of Saint PauHnus to Mac- 
arius," found in La Eigne 's Magna Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum, 
1618, in which an old man is the sole survivor of the ship's crew, 
and the ship is navigated by "a creAVof angels," and steered by 
the " Pilot of the World." It is quite possible that Coleridge had 
seen these strange narratives, for about that time he was "a 
literary cormorant," he says, "deep in all out of the way books, 
whether of the monkish times, or of the puritanical era." But 
all such remote hints do not affect the originality of the poem — 
of the poetry of the poem; they merely show how genius always 


assimilates crude material and reproduces it in forms of beauti- 
ful art. 

Ingenious and somewhat perverse efforts have been made to 
find in the Ancient Mariner some deep moral or subtle symbolical 
meaning. Some think they see in it an allegory, shadowing 
forth "the terrible discipline of culture, through which man 
must pass in order to reach self-consciousness and self-deter- 
mination." An illustration of this method of interpretation 
may be found in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Vol. 14. 
But the matter is made clear enough by the statement of the 
simple moral at the end, and if this will not satisfy the searcher 
after profundity, we have Coleridge's own words for it that no 
deeper moral was intended. In Table Talk he says: 

"Mrs. Barbauld once told me that she admired the Ancient 
Mariner very much, but that there were two faults in it, — it 
was improbable, and had no moral. As for the probability, I 
owned that that might admit some question; but as to the want 
of a moral, I told her that in my own judgment the poem had 
too much; and that the only, or chief, fault, if I might say so, 
was the obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on the reader 
as a principle or cause of action in a work of such pure imagina- 
tion. It ought to have had no more moral than the Arabian 
Nights tale of the merchant's sitting down to eat dates by the 
side of a well, and throwing the shells aside, and lo! a genie starts 
up, and says he must kill the aforesaid merchant because one of 
the date-shells had, it seems, put out the eye of the genie's son." 

The form of the Ancient Mariner is that of the l^allad. Words- 
worth says in his first preface that it "was professedly written 
in imitation of the style, as well as of the spirit of the elder poets." 
Coleridge did much more than imitate the old ballads. He 
made use of the typical and most effective features of balladry, 
such as the rapid movement, free interchange of metrical feet, 
repetition, alliteration, end rhyme and interlinear rhyme; but with 
the supreme artist's creative skill he worked these hackneyed 
elements into a new metrical structure that was quite his own 
and imique in poetry. He not only gave life to the old ballad, 
but gave to it a new life different from any that it had known 


before, a life endowed with music, magic expression and spiritual 
power. The typical ballad stanza consists of four lines, the 
first and third having four feet in each and no rhyme, the second 
and fourth having three feet with rhyme. The measure is 
iambic, varied with anapestic substitutions. Such is the first 
stanza of the Ancient Mariner, which will scan thus: 

It is an ancient mariner, 

And he stoppeth one of three. 
By thy long grey beard and glittering eye, 

Now wherefore stoppst thou me? 

Coleridge used this stanza as a basis, modifying it in a variety of 
ways. He not only interchanged iambic and anapestic feet, but 
often substituted a trochee, as in 11. 29, 84, 119, 174. His use 
of interlinear rhyme is seen in such lines as 27, 31, 49, 53. This 
freedom was allowed in the older poetry, but in the eighteenth 
century it was an offense against the laws of poetry as under- 
stood in the school of Pope. Coleridge rel:)elled against the 
starched precision of the rhymed couplet and the tame uni- 
formity of even the best verse of the century, like that of Gray's 
Elegy. This use of irregular meter he regarded as a "new prin- 
ciple," which is illustrated more fully in Christahel; and what he 
says in the preface to that poem (p. 33) in explanation of his 
departure applies equally to the Ancient Mariner. 


There can be no doubt that the Ancient Mariner at first 
shocked the general pubhc, and pleased not even the poet's 
best friends. Its strangeness was utterly incomprehensible. 
Southey called it "a Dutch attempt at German sublimity," 
adding, "many of the stanzas are laboriously beautiful; but in 
connection they are absurd or unintelligible." A writer in the 
Monthly Review for June, 1799, reviewed the volume and said 


of the Ancient Mariner: "Though it seems a rhapsody of unin- 
telligible wildness and incoherence (of which we do not perceive 
the drift, unless the joke lies in depriving the wedding-guest of 
his share of the feast), there are in it poetical touches of an ex- 
quisite kind." Even Wordsworth believed the failure of the 
volume to be due to the unpopularity of this initial ballad, and 
in the second edition added a curiously apologetic and patroniz- 
ing note, giving his reasons for repubhshing it. "The poem of 
my friend," he says, "has indeed great defects: first, that the 
principal person has no distinct character, either in his profession 
of Mariner, or as a human being who having been long under the 
control of supernatural impressions might te supposed himself 
to partake of something supernatural; secondly, that he does 
not act, but is continually acted upon; thirdly, that the events 
having no necessary connection do not produce each other; and 
lastly, that the imagery is somewhat too laboriously accumu- 
lated. Yet the poem contains many delicate touches of passion, 
and indeed the passion is everywhere true to nature; a great 
number of the stanzas present beautiful images, and are ex- 
pressed with unusual felicity of language; and the versification, 
though the meter is itself unfit for long poems, is harmonious and 
artfully varied." Therefore, it appeared to him that these 
several merits "gave to the poem a value which is not often 
possessed by better poems." 

A century has passed and other Daniels have come to judg- 
ment. Says Campbell, "The Ancient Mariner is the one perfect, 
complete, and rounded poem of any length which Coleridge 
achieved." "As to its poetry," says Stopford Brooke, "it is 
like that of Christabel, not to be analyzed or explained. The 
spirit herself of Poetry is everywhere, in these two poems, felt, 
but never obtruding, touching spiritual life and earthly love- 
liness each with equal light, and so charming sense and soul 
with music that what is spiritual seems sensible, and what is of 
the senses seems spiritual." 

The poet Swinburne regards this poem as "beyond question 
one of the supreme triumphs of poetry. . . . For the execution, 


I presume no human eye is too dull to see how perfect it is, and 
how high in kind of perfection. Here is not the speckless and 
elaborate finish which shows everywhere the fresh rasp of file 
or chisel on its smooth and spruce excellence; this is faultless 
after the fashion of a flower or a tree. Thus it has grown; not 
thus has it been carved." 

And finally, we must hsten to the high judgment of Lowell: 
"He has written some of the most poetical poetry in the lan- 
guage, and one poem, the Ancient Mariner, not only unparalleled, 
but unapproachable in its kind, and that kind of the rarest. It 
is marvelous in its mastery over that delightfully fortuitous 
inconsequence that is the adamantine logic of dream-land. 
Coleridge has taken the old ballad measure and given to it by 
an indefinable charm wholly his own all the sweetness, all the 
melody and compass of a symphony. And how picturesque it 
is in the proper sense of the word. I know nothing like it. 
There is not a description in it. It is all picture. Descriptive 
poets generally confuse us with multiplicity of detail; we cannot 
see their forest for the trees; but Coleridge never errs in this way. 
With instinctive tact he touches the right chord of association, 
and is satisfied, as we also are. I should find it hard to explain 
the singular charm of his diction, there is so much nicety of art 
and purpose in it, whether for music or meaning. Nor does it 
need any explanation, for we all feel it. The words seem com- 
mon words enough, but in the order of them, in the choice, 
variety, and position of the vowel-sounds, they become magical. 
The most decrepit vocable in the language throws away its 
crutches to dance and sing at his piping." 


In 1816 a small pamphlet was published by John Murray, 
containing Christabel, Kuhla Khan, and The Pains of Sleep. 
Byron, who already knew the poem in manuscript, advised the 
great publisher to print Christabel, saying, "I won't have any 
one sneer at Christabel; it is a fine wild poem." The pamphlet 
contained the following "Preface": 


"The first part of the following poem was written in the year 
one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven, at Stowey, in 
the county of Somerset. The second part, after my return from 
Germany, in the year one thousand eight hundred, at Keswick, 
Cumberland. Since the latter date, my poetic powers have 
been, till very lately, in a state of suspended animation. But, as 
in my very first conception of the tale, I had the whole present to 
my mind, with the wholeness, no less than with the liveliness, of 
a vision, I trust that I shall be able to embody in verse the three 
parts yet to come, in the course of the present year. 

''It is probable that if the poem had been finished at either 
of the former periods, or if even the first and second part had 
been published in the year 1800, the impression of its originality 
would have been much greater than I dare at present expect. 
But for this, I have only my own indolence to blame. The 
dates are mentioned for the exclusive purpose of precluding 
charges of plagiarism or servile imitation from myself. For 
there is amongst us a set of critics who seem to hold that every 
possible thought and image is traditional; who have no notion 
that there are such things as fountains in the world, small as 
well as great; and who would therefore charitably derive every 
rill they behold flowing, from a perforation made in some other 
man's tank. I am confident, however, that as far as the present 
poem is concerned, the celebrated poets whose writings I might 
be suspected of having imitated, either in particular passages, 
or in the tone and the spirit of the whole, would be among the 
first to vindicate me from the charge, and who, on any striking 
coincidence, would permit me to address them in this doggerel 
version of two monkish Latin hexameters : 

'Tis mine, and it is likewise yours; 

But an if this will not do. 
Let it be mine, good friend, for I 

Am the poorer of the two. 

"I have only to add that the meter of the Christabel is not, 
properly speaking, irregular, though it may seem so from its 
being founded on a new principle, — namely, that of counting in 
each line the accents, not the syllables. Though the latter may 
vary from seven to twelve, yet in each line the accents will be 
found to be only four. Nevertheless, this occasional variation 
in number of syllables is not introduced wantonly, or for the 
mere ends of convenience, but in correspondence with some 
transition, in the nature of the imagery or passion." 

The hope expressed at the end of the first paragraph was never 


fulfilled. These words were modified in subsequent editions, 
and finally in the edition of 1834 were omitted altogether. For 
many years he was constantly promising his friends and himself 
that he would complete the poem, yet it is doubtful whether at 
any time he could have done so successfully. The magic wand 
was broken. The clear and alluring fight of romantic vision 
with which his creative soul was illuminated in that wonderful 
year at Stowey was never so pure and clear again. Even as soon 
as 1799 he began to be tormented with doubts. "I am afraid," 
he writes, "that I have scarce poetic enthusiasm enough to 
finish Christabel." Yet the idea of finishing it haunted him all 
his fife. In 1833 he said {Table Talk, July 6): "The reason of 
my not finishing Christabel is not that I don't know how to do it 
— for I have, as I always had, the whole plan entire from be- 
ginning to end in my mind; but I fear I could not carry on with 
equal success the execution of the idea, an extremely subtle and 
difficult one." And so the poem was left forever, as Scott called 
it, "a beautiful and tantalizing fragment." 

Gillman, in his Life of Coleridge, gives the plan of a conclusion, 
as Coleridge "explained the story to his friends." 

"The following relation was to have occupied a third and 
fourth canto, and to have closed the tale. Over the mountains 
the Bard, as directed by Sir Leoline, hastes with his disciple; but 
in consequence of one of those inundations, supposed to be com- 
mon to this country, the spot only where the castle once stood 
is discovered, the edifice itself being washed away. He deter- 
mines to return. Geraldine, being acquainted with all that is 
passing, like the weird sisters in Macbeth, vanishes. Reappear- 
ing, however, she awaits the return of the bard, exciting in the 
meantime, by her wily arts, all the anger she could rouse in the 
baron's breast, as well as that jealousy of which he is described 
to have been susceptible. The old Bard and the youth at length 
arrive, and therefore she can no longer personate the character 
of Geraldine, the daughter of Lord Roland de Vaux, but changes 
her appearance to that of the accepted though absent lover of 
Christabel. Next ensues a courtship most distressing to Chris- 
tabel, who feels, she knows not why, great disgust for her once 
favored knight. This coldness is very painful to the Baron, who 
has no more conception than herself of the supernatural trans- 


formation. She at last yields to her father's entreaties, and 
consents to approach the altar with this hated suitor. The real 
lover, returning, enters at this moment, and produces the ring 
which she had once given him in sign of her betrothment. Thus 
defeated, the supernatural being, Geraldine, disappears. As 
predicted, the castle bell tolls, the mother's voice is heard, and 
to the exceeding great joy of the parties, the rightful marriage 
takes place, after which follows a reconciliation and explanation 
between the father and daughter." 

This conclusion, says Rossetti, "I believe is correct enough, 
only not picturesquely worded. It does not seem a bad con- 
clusion by any means, though it would require fine treatment to 
make it seem a really good one." 

As to the meaning of the poem, it is very unlikely that Cole- 
ridge intended to embody in it any specific moral or psychological 
idea. Indeed, he himself called it just "a common Fairy tale." 
Nevertheless, it has a moral significance, as has all fine 
imaginative art, which is revealed variously through a refined 
symbolism to the inquiring spirits that are brought to its contem- 
plation; but it would be as unsafe to insist upon any particular 
"interpretation" as to pronounce dogmatically upon the moral 
purpose of the Laocoon or the Dying Gladiator. Gillman in- 
ferred from Coleridge's conversation that the story is "partly 
founded on the notion that the virtuous of this world save the 
wicked." Campbell suggests that this explanation must have 
been "mere quizzing on the part of Coleridge, indulged in to 
relieve the pressure of prosaic curiosity." Each intelligent 
reader will extract from the poem a moral according to his own 
moral aptitude. 


The appeal of Christabel to the critics, in 1816, was not any 
more favorable than that of the Ancient Mariner in 1798. The 
Edinburgh Review said that it exhibited "from beginning to end 
not a ray of genius," and declared it to be "one of the most 
notable pieces of impertinence of which the press has lately 
been guilty; and one of the boldest experiments that has yet 


been made upon the patience and understanding of the pubhc." 
Although the reception of the poem was disappointing, the 
pamphlet sold rapidly, and soon went into a second edition. 

It is generally agreed that the second part of Christahel is 
inferior to the first. Coleridge himself seemed to feel this. 
"Certainly," he says, "the first canto is more perfect, has more 
of the true wild, weird spirit than the last." As we pass from 
the first to the second part, says Prof. Beers, "the magic glamour 
has faded into the light of common day. . . . The fact that 
Christahel was left unfinished is not needed, as evidence, to 
prove that Coleridge could never have finished it in the spirit 
in which it was begun." 

"The first part," says Prof. Herford, "is a masterpiece in the 
art of suggesting enchantment by purely natural means. The 
castle, the wood, the mastiff, the tree with its jagged shadows, 
are drawn with a quivering intensity of touch which conveys 
the very atmosphere of foreboding and suspense. The real 
marvel, too, when we come to it - — the serpent-nature of Geral- 
dine — is of a more searching and subtle weirdness than that of 
The Mariner; for no prodigies of the external world touch the 
imagination so nearly as distortions of human personality." 

"The magical beauty of Christahel," says J. C. Shairp, "has 
been so long canonized in the world's estimate that to praise it 
now would be unseemly. It brought into English poetry an 
atmosphere of wonder and mystery, of weird beauty and pity 
combined, which was quite new at the time it appeared, and has 
never since been approached. The movement of its subtle 
cadences has a union of grace with power which only the finest 
lines of Shakspere can parallel. As we read Christahel and a few 
other of Coleridge's pieces we recall his own words: 

'In a half sleep we dream. 
And dreaming hear thee still, O singing lark! 
That singest like an angel in the clouds.'" 

Lowell suggests a discriminating comparison, which is worth 
careful consideration. "I confess," he says, "that I prefer the 


Ancient Mariner to Christabel, fine as that poem is in parts and 
tantalizing as it is in the suggestion of deeper meanings than 
were ever there. The Ancient Mariner seems to have come of 
itself. In Christabel I fancy him saying, 'Go to, let us write an 
imaginative poem.' It could never be finished on those terms." 


This poem was first printed in 1816, in the pamphlet with 
Christabel, with the title Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream, 
and with the following prefatory explanation by Coleridge: 

"The following fragment is here published at the request of a 
poet of great and deserved celebrity, and as far as the author's 
own opinions are concerned, rather as a psychological curiosity 
than on the ground of any supposed 'poetic merits. 

"In the summer of the year 1797, the author, then in ill 
health, had retired to a lonely farm-house between Porlock and 
Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. 
In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been 
prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at 
the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words 
of the same substance, in Purchases Pilgrimage: 'Here the Khan 
Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden 
thereunto. And thus ten miles of fertile ground was inclosed 
with a wall.' The author continued for about three hours in a 
profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which 
time he has the most vivid confidence that he could not have 
composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that 
indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up 
before him as things, with a parallel production of the corre- 
spondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of 
effort. On awaking he appeared to himself to have a distinct 
recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, 
instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. 
At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on 
business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and 
on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and 
mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim 
recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the 
exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the 
rest had passed away like the images on the. surface of a stream 


into which a stone has been cast, but, alas! without the after 
restoration of the latter! 

Then all the charm 
Is broken — all that phantom-world so fair 
Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread, 
And each mis-shape the other. Stay awhile. 
Poor youth ! who scarcely dar'st lift up thine eyes — 
The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon 
The visions will return! And lo! he stays. 
And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms 
Come trembling back, unite, and now once more 
The pool becomes a mirror. 

"Yet from the still surviving recollections in his mind, the 
author has frequently purposed to finish for himself what had 
been originally, as it were, given to him. Avpiop g.5iov dcrio; but 
the to-morrow is yet to come." 

The celebrated poet referred to in the first paragraph was 
Byron. The experience with the anodyne was probably one of 
the first, if not the first, of Coleridge's experiences with the 
strange effects of opium. All of his great poems are, in a sense, 
miraculous productions. The dream element is in them all; 
but how much the marvelous drug may have had to do with 
the dreams we shall never know. In April, 1816, Lamb wrote 
to Wordsworth: 

"Coleridge is printing Christabel by Lord Byron's recommenda- 
tion to Murray, with what he calls a vision, Kubia Khan, which 
said vision he repeats so enchantingly that it irradiates and 
brings heaven and elysian bowers into my parlor when he sings 
or says it; but there is an observation, 'Never tell thy dreams,' 
and I am almost afraid that Kuhla Khan is an owl that will not 
bear daylight. I fear lest it should be discovered by the lantern 
of typography and clear reducting to letters no better than non- 
sense or no sense." 

The Edinburgh Review thought Kubla Khan not quite so bad 
as Christabel, and not "mere raving" like The Pains of Sleep, 
but bad enough to be condemned. Compare this judgment 
with that of Swinburne, who pronounces Kubla Khan to be 
"for absolute melody and splendor, the first poem in the Ian- 


guage." Here we have the beginning and the end of criticism 
upon this marvelous fragment of poetic melody. Let the imag- 
ination yield freely to the fascination of the dream pictures, 
with no attempt to compel the lines to give forth a coherent 
meaning, and the judgment of Swinburne, within the limitations 
he names, will not seem extravagant. 


Few personal poems possess the profound interest of this ode, 
which is not an ode to dejection, contemplated poetically, but 
an expression of dejection as actually experienced. It is a 
confession from out of the depths of a heavily burdened soul, 
and the pain and pathos of its yearning and despairing lines are 
increased by the consciousness that the burden was largely of 
that soul's own creating. Ill health, domestic tribulation, and 
the opium indulgence combined to produce the mood in which 
the poem was written. Nor was it the expression of a passing 
mood, as Traill suggests, like that of Shelley's poem of the same 
title, but rather "the record of a life change, a veritable threnody 
over a spiritual death. For there can be no doubt — his whole 
subsequent history goes to show it — that Coleridge's 'shaping 
spirit of Imagination' was in fact dead when these lines were 
written. To a man of stronger moral fiber a renascence of the 
poetical instinct in other forms might have been possible; but 
the poet of Christabel and the Ancient Mariner was dead. The 
metaphysician had taken his place, and was striving, in abstruse 
research, to live in forgetfulness of the loss." 

The poem was first printed in the Morning Post, Oct. 4, 1802, 
which was Wordsworth's wedding-day. As originally written, 
it was addressed to Wordsworth, the name "William" appearing 
throughout the poem in the lines of personal address. But in 
the first printed form this name was changed to "Edmund," 
and this again was changed in the edition of 1817 to the present 
"Lady," referring presumably (if any personal reference is in- 
tended) to Mrs. Wordsworth, or Dorothy Wordsworth. Many 


other changes were made in the poem in 1817, some of which 
are described in the notes. The complete poem in its first 
printed form is given in the Appendix to Campbell's edition; as 
first written, it is given by Coleridge in a letter to W. Sotheby, 
July 19, 1802 (See Letters, Vol. I, pp. 378-384). Coleridge's 
reason for blotting out all direct allusions to Wordsworth is an 
unsolved problem. In 1802 Wordsworth was his most intimate 
friend, — "friend of my devoutest choice" — and the personal 
passages in the poem are a noble tribute of admiration to this 
friend. Campbell thinks that the explanation is found in a 
temporary estrangement between the two friends that occurred 
between 1802 and 1817, the reconcihation not having cleared 
away entirely "the marks of that which once had been." In 
the same manner he removed the personal color from his poem, 
To William Wordsworth, composed on hearing Wordsworth 
recite the Prelude, the title becoming To a Gentleman. 

It is quite possible, however, that for the artistic and perma- 
nent purposes of poetry Coleridge concluded that the personal 
coloring should be more obscure; upon this basis the "Lady" of 
the ode would be merely an impersonal idealization of lofty 
character. The matter is discussed briefly in the notes, and an 
interesting discussion of the whole question by Canon Ainger 
may be found in Macmillan's Magazine, June, 1887. The other 
poems recording the friendship of these two great poets should 
be read in connection with this ode, Coleridge's To a Gentleman, 
just mentioned, and Wordsworth's Stanzas Written in my Pocket- 
copy of Thomson's " Castle of Indolence,'' and the last book of the 
Prelude, especially the concluding passage beginning: 

"Whether to me shall be allotted life," etc. 


During the first years of the French Revolution, Coleridge, 
like Wordsworth and Southey, was filled with passionate zeal 
for the cause of popular liberty as represented by the people of 
France, who had overthrown the despotic government of the 


monarchy and established a republic. He harangued his col- 
lege friends upon the theme with tumultuous eloquence, wrote 
poems, delivered lectures, and started the Watchman with the 
avowed purpose of disseminating the new doctrines. But as 
the excesses of the Revolution increased and the despotism of 
the guillotine was established in bloody horrors, he modified his 
views of liberty and popular sovereignty. Indeed, ''before 
1793," he declares, "I clearly saw, and often enough stated in 
public, the horrid delusion, the vile mockery of the whole affair." 
Instead of being a Jacobin, he was, he says, at "the extreme 
opposite pole." In 1798 the French republic wantonly in- 
vaded Switzerland, and this despicable act brought forth from 
Coleridge a poetic expression of his blighted faith in French 

This magnificent ode, which Shelley called the finest ode in the 
language, was first printed in the Morning Post April 16, 1798, 
with the title The Recantation : An Ode, so named because the 
poet now recanted his widely published belief in the French 
Revolution. It was accompanied by an editorial introduction 
beginning thus: "The following excellent ode will be in unison 
with the feelings of every friend to liberty, and foe to oppression; 
of all who, admiring the French Revolution, detest and deplore 
the conduct of France towards Switzerland." It was printed 
again in the Morning Post in 1802, with the present title, and 
preceded by the following "Argument," which will be of assist- 
ance in interpreting the text : 

"First Stanza. An invocation to those objects in Nature the 
contemplation of which had inspired the Poet with a devotional 
love of Liberty. Second Stanza. The exultation of the Poet 
at the commencement of the French Revolution, and his un- 
qualified abhorrence of the Alliance against the Republic. 
Third Stanza. The blasphemies and horrors during the dom- 
ination of the Terrorists regarded by the Poet as a transient 
storm, and as the natural consequence of the former despotism 
and oi the foul superstition of Popery. Reason, indeed, began 
to suggest many apprehensions; yet still the Poet struggled to 
retain the hope that France would make conquests by no other 
means than by presenting to the observation of Europe a people 


more happy and better instructed than under other forms of 
Government. Fourth Stanza. Switzerland and the Poet's re- 
cantation. Fifth Stanza. An address to Liberty, in which the 
Poet expresses his conviction that those feeUngs and that great 
ideal of Freedom which the mind attains by its contemplation 
of its individual nature, and of the sublime surrounding objects 
(see stanza the first), do not belong to men as a society, nor can 
possibly be either gratified or realized under any form of human 
government; but belong to the individual man, so far as he is 
pure, and inflamed with the love and adoration of God in Nature." 


Study the musical quahty of the poems and explain its special 
beauty and variety. For this purpose the poems must be read 
aloud until the varying rhythm is completely mastered. 

The structure of the Ancient Mariner, its unity, and the 
appropriateness of its seven divisions. 

The supernatural element compared with that of Christabel. 

A comparison of the final text with that of 1798. (See Camp- 
bell's edition for a complete reprint of the original text.) Show 
the improvements by omissions and by additions. 

The value of the " Gloss." Was Wordsworth correct in calling 
it "a gratuitous afterthought"? 

Coleridge's purpose in adding the Motto from Burnet? 

Comparison of the recurrence of the wedding-guest and the 
albatross throughout the poem with the use of the motif or theme 
in musical compositions. 

The religion of the Ancieni Mariner. 

The moral of the poem: was it the underlying purpose of the 
poem, or an incidental feature, or an afterthought? 

Make out the geography of the poem and chart the course of 
the ship. 

Explain the incident of the Pilot's boy. 

Analyze the picture of the calm, showing the poet's use of 
details in producing the effect. 

Consider Swinburne's suggestion that "this great sea-piece 
might have had more in it of the air and savor of the sea." 


Nearly every English poet has written finely of the sea; make 
some comparisons. 

Study the forceful imagery of the poem, especially in such 
passages as 11. 41-66; 199-219. 

Compare the Ancient Mariner with some of the old ballads, 
as Sir Patrick Spence, Chevy Chase, The Nut-brown Maid (Percy's 
Reliques); explain points of likeness and of difference. 

In Part I of Christabel, the details that produce the atmos- 
phere of mystery and superstition. 

Point out the pictures in Christabel. 

Respects in which Part II is inferior to Part I. 

A comparison of Christabel with Keats's Lamia. 

An account of Charles Lamb's relations to Coleridge. Of 
Wordsworth's association with Coleridge. 

Coleridge's vocabulary, its composition and power. 

The specific features of reform in poetry aimed at by Words- 
worth and Coleridge. (See Wordsworth's Prefaces and Cole- 
ridge's Biographia Literaria.) 


J. Dykes Campbell's Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Cole- 
ridge, edited Avith a Biographical Introduction. The standard 
edition, indispensable for a thorough study of Coleridge. The 
Introduction is issued separately as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a 
Narrative of the Events of his Life, 1894. The most accurate and 
authoritative biography. 

H. D. Traill's Coleridge (English Men of Letters Series). 

Hall Caine's Coleridge (Great Writers Series), with full Bib- 
liography. This and the preceding are very satisfactory for 
school use. 

Ernest Hartley Coleridge's Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 
2 vols., 1895. Of the utmost value in interpreting the personal 
character of Coleridge. 

Alois Brandl's Life of Coleridge, translated by Lady Eastlake. 

Leslie Stephens's Article in Dictionary of National Biography. 

James Gillman's Life of Coleridge, 1838, and Joseph Cottle's 


Reminiscences of Coleridge and Soidhey, 1847. Interesting be- 
cause of the peculiarly intimate association of the authors with 
Coleridge, one being his first publisher, the other his physician 
and "more than friend." 

C. H. Herford's Age of Wordsworth, a good treatment of Cole- 
ridge and his contemporaries. 

Henry A. Beers's Prose Selections from Coleridge, edited with 
Introduction and Notes. 

Stopford Brooke's Golden Book of Coleridge and Theology in 
the English Poets. 

James Russell Lowell's Literary and Political Addresses, 
Works, Vol. VI. (Address on Unveiling the Bust of Coleridge in 
Westminster Abbey, May 7, 1885.) Supremely interesting and 

Richard Garnett's Poetry of Coleridge. 

Edward Dowden's Studies in Literature and New Studies in 

Walter Pater's Appreciations. Valuable only to advanced 
students. The essay in briefer form is in Ward's Poets. 

A. C. vSwinburne's Essays and Studies. Important as the 
estimate of a great living poet, though characteristically ex- 
travagant in expression. 

J. C. Shairp's Studies in Philosophy and Poetry. 

Thomas Carlyle's Life of John Sterling, Chapter VIII. The 
most carefully studied portrait by a contemporary. 

Thomas De Quincey's Coleridge and Opium Eating and Liter- 
ary Reminiscences. Interesting, but untrustworthy. 

A. P. Russell's Characteristics. Contains descriptions by con- 
temporaries of Coleridge's conversations. 

Edmund Gosse's Short History of Modern English Literature. 

George Edward Woodberry's Makers of Literature. Valuable 
for advanced students. 

William Watson's Excursions in Criticism. 

Leslie Stephens's Hours in a Library, Vol. IV. 

John M. Robertson's New Essays toward a Critical Method. 
For advanced students. 


G. D. Boyle's Article in the Encyclopoedia Britannica. 

Matthew Arnold's Essays in Criticism, First Series (Joubert). 

The Edinburgh Review, Vol. XXVII, 1816, and Blackwood's 
Magazine, Vol. VI, 1819, as illustrations of the criticism of the 



Facile credo, plures esse Naturas invisibiles quam visibiles in 
rerum universitate. Sed horum omnium familiam qiiis nobis 
enarrabit? et gradus et cognationes et discrimina et singulorum 
munera? Quid agunt? quae loca habitant? Harum rerum no- 
titiam semper ambivit ingenium humanum, nunquam attigit. 
Juvat, interea, non diffiteor, q.uandoque in animo, tanquam in 
tabula, majoris et melioris mundi imaginem contemplari: ne 
mens assuefacta hodierni« vitae minutiis se contrahat nimis, et 
tota subsidat in pusillas cogitationes. Sed veritati interea in- 
vigilandum est, modusque servandus, ut certa ab incertis, diem 
a nocte, distinguamus. — T. Burnet, Archoeol. Phil., p. 68. 


How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to 
the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence 
she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific 
Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner 
the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country. (1798.) 

Part I 

It is an ancient Mariner, An ancient Mari- 

ner meeteth 

And he stoppeth one of three. three Gallants 

. bidden to a wed- 

By thy long grey beard and glittering ding-feast, and 

detaineth one. 


Now wherefore stopp'st thou me? 



The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide, 
And I am next of kin; 6 

The guests are met, the feast is set: 
May'st hear the merry din." 

He holds him with his skinny hand, 
"There was a ship," quoth he. 10 

" Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon! " 
Eftsoons his hand dropt he. 

The Wedding- He liolds him with his glittering eye — 

Guest is spell- . o o j 

bound by the eye The Wedding-GuCSt StOod Still, 
of the old sea- . 

faring man, and And Hsteus like a three years' child: 15 

constrained to 

hear his tale. The Mariner hath his will. 

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone: 
He cannot choose but hear; 
And thus spake on that ancient man, 
The bright-eyed Mariner. 20 

" The ship was cheered, the harbor cleared, 
Merrily did we drop 
Below the kirk, below the hill, 
Below the lighthouse top. 

The Mariner tells The Suu Came UD UDOU the left, 25 

how the ship 

sailed southward Qut of the sea Came he! 

with a good wind i • i 

and fair weather, And he shoue bright, and on the right 

till It reached the . 

Line. Went dowu into the sea. 


Higher and higher every day, 
Till over the mast at noon — " 30 

The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, 
For he heard the loud bassoon. 

The bride hath paced into the hall, The Wedding- 

. Guest heareth 

Ked as a rose is she; the bridal music; 

1 • 1 ^ ^ f ^"* *he Mariner 

Noddnig their heads before her goes 35 continueth his 
The merry minstrelsy. 

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast, 
Yet he cannot choose but hear; 
And thus spake on that ancient man, 
The bright-eyed Mariner. 40 

" And now the Storm-blast came, and he The ship drawn 

by a storm to- 

Was tyrannous and strong: ward the south 

He struck with his overtaking wings. 
And chased us south along. 

With sloping masts and dipping prow, 45 
As who pursued with yell and blow 
Still treads the shadow of his foe. 
And forward bends his head. 
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast, 
And southward ave we fled. 50 

And now there came both mist and snow, 
And it grew wondrous cold: 
And ice, mast-high, came floating by. 
As green as emerald. 


The land of ice, 
and of fearful 
sounds where no 
living thing was 
to be seen. 

Till a great sea- 
bird, called the 
Albatross, came 
through the 
snow-fog, and 
was received 
with great joy 
and hospitality. 

And lo! the Alba- 
tross proveth a 
bird of good 
omen, and fol- 
loweth the ship 
as it returned 
through fog and 
floating ice. 

And through the drifts the snowy cUfts 
Did send a dismal sheen: 56 

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken — 
The ice was all between. 

The ice was here, the ice was there, 
The ice was all around: 60 

It cracked and growled, and roared and 

Like noises in a swound! 

At length did cross an Albatross, 
Thorough the fog it came; 
As if it had been a Christian soul, 65 
We hailed it in God's name. 

It ate the food it ne'er had eat. 

And round and round it flew. 

The ice did split with a thunder-fit; 

The helmsman steered us through! 70 

And a good south wind sprung up behind; 
The Albatross did follow, 
And every day, for food or play, 
Came to the mariners' hollo! 

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud, 75. 

It perched for vespers nine; 

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke 

Glimmered the white moon-shine." 




"God save thee, ancient Mariner, 79 
From the fiends, that plague thee thus! — 
Why look'st thou so?'' — "With my 

I shot the Albatross." 

The ancient 
Mariner inhos- 
pitably killeth 
the pious bird of 
good omen. 

Part II 

The Sun now rose upon the right: 
Out of the sea came he. 
Still hid in mist, and on the left 
Went down into the sea. 


And the good south wind still blew behind, 

But no sweet bird did follow, 

Nor any day for food or play 

Came to the mariners' hollo! 90 

And I had done a hellish thing. 

And it would work 'em woe: 

For all averred, I had killed the bird 

That made the breeze to blow. 

Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay, 95 

That made the breeze to blow! 

His shipmates 

cry out against 
the ancient 
Mariner, for 
kilHng the bird 
of good luck. 

Nor dim nor red, like God's own head, 
The glorious Sun uprist: 
Then all averred, I had killed the bird 
That brought the fog and mist. 100 

'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay, 
That bring the fog and mist. 

But when the 
fog cleared off, 
they justify the 
same, and thus 
make themselves 
accomplices in 
the crime. 


The fair breeze 
continues; the 
ship enters the 
Pacific Ocean, 
and sails north- 
ward, even till it 
reaches the Line. 

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, 
The furrow followed free; 
We were the first that ever burst 105 
Into that silent sea. 


The ship hath 
been suddenly 

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt 

'Twas sad as sad could be; 
And we did speak only to break 
The silence of the sea! 110 

All in a hot and copper sky, 

The bloody Sun, at noon. 

Right up above the mast did stand, 

No bigger than the Moon. 

Day after day, day after day, 
We stuck, nor breath nor motion; 
As idle as a painted ship 
Upon a painted ocean. 


And the Alba- Water, Water, every where, 

tross begins to . . , 

be avenged. And all the boards did shrink; 

Water, water, everywhere, 
Nor any drop to drink. 


The very deep did rot : O Christ ! 
That ever this should be! 
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs 125 
Upon the slimy sea. 



About, about, in reel and rout 

The death-fires danced at night; 

The water, like a witch's oils, 

Burnt green, and blue, and white. 130 

And some in dreams assured were 
Of the spirit that plagued us so ; 
Nine fathom deep he had followed us 
From the land of mist and snow. 

And every tongue, through utter drought, 
Was withered at the root; 136 

We could not speak, no more than if 
We had been choked with soot. 

Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks 
Had I from old and young! 140 

Instead of the cross, the Albatross 
About my neck was hung. 

Part III 

There passed a weary time. Each throat 

Was parched, and glazed each eye. 

A weary time! a weary time! 145 

How glazed each weary eye, 

When looking westward, I beheld 

A something in the sky. 

A Spirit had fol- 
lowed them; one 
of the invisible 
inhabitants of 
this planet, 
neither departed 
souls nor angels; 
whom the 
learned Jew, 
Josephus, and 
the Platonic 
tan, Michael 
Psellus, may be 
consulted. They 
are very numer- 
ous, and there is 
no climate or ele- 
ment without 
one or more. 

The shipmates, 
in their sore dis- 
tress, would fain 
throw the whole 
guilt on the an- 
cient Mariner; 
in sign whereof 
they hang the 
dead sea-bird 
round his neck. 

The ancient 
Mariner behold- 
eth a sign in the 
element afar off. 

At first it seemed a little speck. 
And then it seemed a mist; 



It moved and moved, and took at last 
A certain shape, I wist. 

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist! 
And still it neared and neared: 
As if it dodged a water-sprite. 
It plunged and tacked and veered. 


At its nearer 
approach, it 
seemeth him to 
be a ship; and at 
a dear ransom 
he freeth his 
speech from the 
bonds of thirst. 

With throats unslaked, with black lips 

We could nor laugh nor wail ; 
Through utter drought all dumb we stood! 
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood, 160 
And cried, A sail! a sail! 

With throats unslaked, with black lips 

Agape they heard me call: 
Gramercy! they for joy did grin. 
And all at once their breath drew in, 165 
As they were drinking all. 

And horror foi- See! See! (I cried) she tacks no more! 

lows. For can 

it be a ship that Hither to work US weal: 

comes onward 

without wirid or Without a breeze, without a tide, 

tide? ... 

She steadies with upright keel! 

A flash of joy; 


The western wave was all a-flame. 
The day was well nigh done! 
Almost upon the western wave 
Rested the broad bright Sun; 


When that strange shape drove suddenly 
Betwixt us and the Sun. 176 

And straight the Sun was flecked with it seemeth him 

but the skeleton 
bars, of a ship. 

(Heaven's Mother send us grace!) 

As if through a dungeon-grate he peered 

With broad and burning face. 180 

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud) 
How fast she nears and nears! 
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun, 
Like restless gossameres? 

Are those her ribs through which the Sun 
Did peer, as through a grate? 186 

And is that Woman all her crew? 
Is that a Death? and are there two? 
Is Death that Woman's mate? 

Her lips were red, her looks were free. 
Her locks were yellow as gold: 191 

Her skin was as white as leprosy, 
The Night-mare Life-in-Death was she. 
Who thicks man's blood with cold. 

And its ribs are 
seen as bars on 
the face of the 
setting Sun. 
The Specter- 
Woman and her 
Death-mate, and 
no other on 
board the skele- 
ton ship. 

Like, vessel, like 
crew I 

The naked hulk alongside came, 195 
And the twain were casting dice; 
'The game is done! I've won! I've won!' 
Quoth she, and whistles thrice. 

Death and Life- 
in-Death have 
diced for the 
ship's crew, and 
she (the latter) 
winneth the an- 
cient Mariner. 


No twilight 
within the 
courts of the 

The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out: 
At one stride comes the dark; 200 

With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea, 
Off shot the specter-bark. 

At the rising of 
the Moon, 

We Ustened and looked sideways up! 
Fear at my heart, as at a cup, 
My life-blood seemed to sip! 205 

The stars were dim, and thick the night. 
The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed 

white ; 
From the sails the dew did drip — 
Till clomb above the eastern bar 
The horned Moon, with one bright star 
Within the nether tip. 211 

One after an- 

One after one, by the star-dogged Moon, 
Too quick for groan or sigh. 
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang, 
And cursed me with his eye. 215 

His siiipmates Four times fifty livmg men, 

drop clown dead. . . , -^ i i " • ^ ' \ 

(And 1 heard nor sigh nor groan) 
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump. 
They dropped down one by one. 

But Life-in- The souls did from their bodies fly. 

Death begins her n i i t 

work on the an- They fled to bliss or woe! 

cient Mariner. . 

And every soul, it passed me by. 
Like the whizz of my cross-bow! 


Part IV 

"I fear thee, ancient Mariner! 
I fear thy skinny hand! 225 

And thou art long, and lank, and brown, 
As is the ribbed sea-sand. 

The Wedding- 
Guest feareth 
that a Spirit is 
talking to him; 

I fear thee and thy glittering eye, 
And thy skinny hand, so brown." — 
Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest! 
This body dropt not down. 231 

Alone, alone, all, all alone, 

Alone on a wide wide sea! 

And never a saint took pity on 

My soul in agony. 235 

The many men, so beautiful! 

And they all dead did lie: 

And a thousand thousand slimy things 

Lived on; and so did I. 

I looked upon the rotting sea, 240 

And drew my eyes away; 

I looked upon the rotting deck, 

And there the dead men lay. 

I looked to Heaven, and tried to pray; 
But or ever a prayer had gusht, 245 
A wicked whisper came, and made 
My heart as dry as dust. 

But the ancient 
Mariner assur- 
eth him of his 
bodily life, and 
proceedeth to 
relate his horri- 
ble penance. 

He despiseth the 
creatures of the 

And envieth that 
they should live, 
and so many lie 


I closed my lids, and kept them close, 
And the balls like pulses beat; 
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and 
the sky 250 

Lay like a load on my weary eye, 
And the dead were at my feet. 

But the curse The cold sweat melted from their limbs, 

liveth for him in ' 

the eye of the Nor rot nor reek did they: 

dead men. . *' 

The look with which they looked on me 
Had never passed away. 256 

An orphan's curse would drag to Hell 

A spirit from on high; 

But oh! more horrible than that 

Is a curse in a dead man's eye! 260 

Seven days, seven nights, I saw that 

And yet I could not die. 

In his loneliness 
and fixedness he 
towards the 
Moon, and the 
stars that still 
sojourn, yet 
still move on- 
ward; and every- 
where the blue 
sky belongs to 
them, and is 
their appointed 
rest, and their 
native country 
and their own 
natural homes, 
which they enter 
unannounced, as 

The moving Moon went up the sky, 
And no where did abide: 
Softly she was going up, 265 

And a star or two beside — 

Her beams bemocked the sultry main. 
Like April hoar-frost spread; 
But where the ship's huge shadow lay, 
The charmed water burnt alway 270 
A still and awful red. 


Beyond the shadow of the ship, 

I watched the water-snakes: 

They moved in tracks of shining white, 

And when they reared, the elfish light 275 

Fell off in hoary flakes. 

Within the shadow of the ship 

I watched their rich attire: 

Blue, glossy green, and velvet black, 

They coiled and swam; and every track 

Was a flash of golden fire. 281 

O happy living things! no tongue 
Their beauty might declare: 
A spring of love gushed from my heart. 
And I blessed them unaware: 285 

Sure my kind saint took pity on me, 
And I blessed them unaware. 

lords that are 
certainly ex- 
pected and yet 
there is a silent 
joy at their 

By the light of 
the Moon he be- 
holdeth God's 
creatures of the 
great calm. 

Their beauty and 
their happiness. 

He blesseth 
them in his 

The selfsame moment I could pray; 
And from my neck so free 
The Albatross fell off, and sank 290 

Like lead into the sea. 

The spell begins 
to break. 

Part V 

Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing. 
Beloved from pole to pole! 
To Mary Queen the praise be given! 
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven, 
That slid into my soul. 296 



By grace of the 
holy mother, the 
ancient Mariner 
is refreshed with 

He heareth 
sounds and seeth 
strange sights 
and commotions 
in the sky and 
the element. 

The silly buckets on the deck, 

That had so long remained, 

I dreamt that they were filled with dew; 

And when I awoke, it rained. 300 

My lips were wet, my throat was cold, 
My garments all were dank; 
Sure I had drunken in my dreams, 
And still my body drank. 

I moved, and could not feel my limbs: 305 

I was so light — almost 

I thought that I had died in sleep. 

And was a blessed ghost. 

And soon I heard a roaring wind: 
It did not come anear; 310 

But with its sound it shook the sails. 
That were so thin and sere. 

The upper air burst into life! 

And a hundred fire-flags sheen. 

To and fro they were hurried about! 315 

And to and fro, and in and out. 

The wan stars danced between. 

And the coming wind did roar more loud. 
And the sails did sigh like sedge; 
And the rain poured down from one black 
cloud; 320 

The Moon was at its edge. 


The thick black cloud was cleft, and still 
The Moon was at its side: 
Like waters shot from some high crag, 
The lightning fell with never a jag, 325 
A river steep and wide. 

The loud wind never reached the ship. The bodies of the 

ship s crew are 
Yet now the ship moved on! inspired, and 

*■ the ship moves 

Beneath the lightning and the Moon on; 

The dead men gave a groan. 330 

They groaned, they stirred, they all up- 
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes; 
It had been strange, even in a dream. 
To have seen those dead men rise. 

The helmsman steered, the ship moved 
on; 335 

Yet never a breeze up blew; 

The mariners all 'gan work the ropes, 
Where they were wont to do; 
They raised their limbs like lifeless tools — 
We were a ghastly crew. 340 

The body of my brother's son 
Stood by me, knee to knee: 
The body and I pulled at one rope, 
But he said nought to me. 


But not by the "I fear thee, ancient Mariner!'' 345 

souls of the men, 

nor by dsemons Be calm, thou W edding-Guest ! 

of earth or mid- 
dle air, but by a 'Twas not those souls that fled in pain, 

blessed troop of . , , . . 

angelic spirits, Which to their corses came again, 

sent down by the » . • , , 

invocation of the But a trooD 01 sDirits blest : 

guardian saint. 

For when it dawned — they dropped 
their arms, 350 

And clustered round the mast; 

Sweet sounds rose slowly through their 

And from their bodies passed. 

Around, around, flew each sweet sound. 
Then darted to the Sun; 355 

Slowly the sounds came back again, 
Now mixed, now one by one. 


Sometimes a-dropping from the sky 
I heard the sky-lark sing; 
Sometimes all little birds that are, 360 
How they seemed to fill the sea and air 
With their sweet jargoning! 

And now 'twas like all instruments, 
Now like a lonely flute; 
And now it is an angel's song, 365 

That makes the Heavens be mute. 

It ceased; yet still the sails made on 
A pleasant noise till noon. 



A noise like of a hidden brook 
In the leafy month of June, 370 

That to the sleeping woods all night 
Singeth a quiet tune. 

Till noon we quietly sailed on, 
Yet never a breeze did breathe: 
Slowly and smoothly went the ship, 375 
Moved onward from beneath. 

Under the keel nine fathom deep, 
From the land of mist and snow. 
The spirit slid: and it was he 
That made the ship to go. 380 

The sails at noon left off their tune, 
And the ship stood still also. 

The Sun, right up above the mast, 
Had fixed her to the ocean: 
But in a minute she 'gan stir, 385 

With a short uneasy motion — 
Backwards and forwards half her length, 
With a short uneasy motion. 

The lonesome 
Spirit from the 
south-pole car- 
ries on the ship 
as far as the 
Line, in obedi- 
ence to the an- 
gelic troop, but 
still requireth 

Then like a pawing horse let go, 
She made a sudden bound: 
It flung the blood into my head, 
And I fell down in a s wound. 


How long in that same fit I lay, 
I have not to declare; 

The Polar 

Spirit's fellow- 
daemons, the in- 
visible inhabi- 


tants of the eie- But 616 mv Uviiig life returned, 395 

ment, take part i t 

in his wrong; I heard and m my soul discerned 

and two of them . . , . 

relate, one to the TwO VOlCeS lU the air. 
other, that pen- 
ance long and 
heavy for the 

ancient Mariner 'Is it he?' QUoth oue, ' Is this the man? 

hath been t i 

accorded to the Bv Him who died ou cross, 

Polar Spirit, who ^ ^ • • i c n i 

returneth south- With his cruel DOW he laid full low 400 


The harmless Albatross. 

The spirit who bidet h by himself 

In the land of mist and snow, 

He loved the bird that loved the man 

Who shot him with his bow.' 405 

The other was a softer voice, 

As soft as honey-dew: 

Quoth he, 'The man hath penance done, 

And penance more will do.' 

Part VI 


'But tell me, tell me! speak again, 410 
Thy soft response renewing — 
What makes that ship drive on so fast? 
What is the Ocean doing?' 


SStill as a slave before his lord, 

The Ocean hath no blast; 415 


His great bright eye most silently 
Up to the Moon is cast — 

If he may know which way to go; 
For she guides him smooth or grim. 
See, brother, see! how graciously 420 
She looketh down on him.' 


' But why drives on that ship so fast, 
Without or wave or wind?' 


'The air is cut away before. 

And closes from behind. 425 

The Mariner 
hath been cast 
into a trance; for 
the angehc 
power causeth 
the vessel to 
drive northward 
faster tlian 
human hfe could 

Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high! 
Or we shall be belated: 
For slow and slow that ship will go, 
When the Mariner's trance is abated.' 

I woke, and we were sailing on 
As in a gentle weather: 

430 The supernatural 
motion is re- 
tarded; the Mar- 
iner awakes, and 

'Twas night, calm ni^ht, the Moon was his penance be- 

^ ^ gins anew. 

The dead men stood together. 

A.11 stood together on the deck, 
For a charnel-dungeon fitter: 



All fixed on me their stony eyes. 
That in the Moon did glitter. 

The pang, the curse, with which they died, 
Had never passed away: 
I could not draw my eyes from theirs, 440 
Nor turn them up to pray. 

The curse is And uow this Spell was suapt : once more 

finally expiated. ^ ^ 

I viewed the ocean green, 

And looked far forth, yet little saw 

Of what had else been seen — 445 

Like one, that on a lonesome road 

Doth walk in fear and dread. 

And having once turned round walks on, 

And turns no more his head; 

Because he knows, a frightful fiend 450 

Doth close behind him tread. 

But soon there breathed a wind on me, 

Nor sound nor motion made: 

Its path was not upon the sea, 

In ripple or in shade. 455 

It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek 
<^Like a meadow-gale of spring — 
It mingled strangely with my fears. 
Yet it felt like a welcoming. 


Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship, 
Yet she sailed softly too: 
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze — 
On me alone it blew. 


Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed 
The lighthouse top I see? 
Is this the hill? is this the kirk? 
Is this mine own countree? 

And the ancient 
Mariner behoid- 
465 eth his native 

We drifted o'er the harbor-bar, 
And I with sobs did pray — 
O let me be awake, my God! 
Or let me sleep alway. 


The harbor-bay was clear as glass, 
So smoothly it was strewn! 
And on the bay the moonlight lay, 
And the shadow of the Moon. 475 

The rock shone bright, the kirk no less, 
That stands above the rock: 
The moonlight steeped in silentness 
The steady weathercock. 

And the bay was white with silent light. The angelic 

. . spirits leave the 

Till rising from the same, 481 dead bodies, 

Full many shapes, that shadows were. 
In crimson colors came. 

And appear in A little distance froiii the prow 

their own forms 

of light. Those crimson shadows were : 485 

I turned my eyes upon the deck — 
Oh, Christ! what saw I there! 

Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat, 
And, by the holy rood! 
A man all light, a seraph-man, 490 

On every corse there stood. 

This seraph-band, each waved his hand: 
It was a heavenly sight! 
They stood as signals to the land. 
Each one a lovely light; 495 

This seraph-band, each waved his hand, 
No voice did they impart — 
No voice; but oh! the silence sank 
Like music on my heart. 

But soon I heard the dash of oars, 500 
I heard the Pilot's cheer; 
My head was turned perforce away, 
And I saw a boat appear. 

The Pilot and the Pilot's boy, 
I heard them coming fast: 505 

Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy 
The dead men could not blast. 


I saw a third — I heard his voice: 

It is the Hermit good! 

He singeth loud his godly hymns 510 

That he makes in the wood. 

He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away 

The Albatross's blood. 

Part VII 
This Hermit good lives in that wood The Hermit of 

the Wood 

Which slopes down to the sea. 515 

How loudly his sweet voice he rears! 
He loves to talk with marineres 
That come from a far countree. 

He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve — 
He hath a cushion plump: 520 

It is the moss that wholly hides 
The rotted old oak-stump. 

The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk, 
^Wliy, this is strange, I trow! 
Where are those lights so many and fair, 
That signal made but now ? ' 526 

' Strange, by my faith ! ' the Hermit said — 

'And they answered not our cheer! Approacheth the 

mi 11111 ^'"P Vf'ith. won- 

Ihe planks looked warped! and see those tier. 

How thin they are and sere! 530 


I never saw aught like to them, 
Unless perchance it were 

Brown skeletons of leaves that lag 
My forest-brook along; 
When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow, 535 
And the owlet whoops to the wolf below. 
That eats the she-wolf's young.' 

' Dear Lord ! it hath a fiendish look — 
(The Pilot made reply) 
I am a-feared ' — ' Push on, push on ! ' 540 
Said the Hermit cheerily. 

The boat came closer to the ship, 
But I nor spake nor stirred; 
The boat came close beneath the ship, 
And straight a sound was heard. 545 

The ship sud- 
denly sinketh. 

The ancient 
Mariner is saved 
in the Pilot's 

Under the water it rumbled on, 
Still louder and more dread: 
It reached the ship, it split the bay; 
The ship went down like lead. 

Stunned by that loud and dreadful 

Which sky and ocean smote, 551 

Like one that hath been seven days 

My body lay afloat; 


But swift as dreams, myself I found 
Within the Pilot's boat. 555 

Upon the whirl, where sank the ship, 
The boat spun round and round; 
And all was still, save that the hill 
Was telling of the sound. 

I moved my lips — the Pilot shrieked 560 
And fell down in a fit; 
The holy Hermit raised his eyes, 
And prayed where he did sit. 

I took the oars: the Pilot's boy. 

Who now doth crazy go, 565 

Laughed loud and long, and all the while 

His eyes went to and fro. 

'Ha, ha!' quoth he, 'full plain I see, 

The Devil knows how to row.' 

And now, all in my own countree, 570 
I stood on the firm land ! 
The Hermit stepped forth from the boat, 
And scarcely he could stand. 

'0 shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!' The ancient 

mi TT • 1 ^ ' 1 m. Mariner earn- 

1 he Hermit crossed his brow, 575 estly entreateth 

( a • 1 > J 1 1 ^ T 1 • 1 1 ^^^ Hermit to 

bay quick, quoth he, I bid thee say — shrieve him; and 

-mru i. e 1 ±1 n, *he penance of 

What manner of man art thou? ufe fails on him. 


Forthwith this frame of mine was 

With a woful agony, 
Which forced me to begin my tale; 580 
And then it left me free. 

And ever and Since then, at an uncertain hour, 

anon throughout 

his future Hfe an That agouy retums; 

agony constrain- . , .,, , . 

eth him to travel And till my ghastly tale is told, 

from land to . 

land, This heart within me burns. 585 

I pass, like night, from land to land; 
I have strange power of speech; 
That moment that his face I see, 
I know the man that must hear me: 
To him my tale I teach. 590 

What loud uproar bursts from that door! 

The wedding-guests are there: 

But in the garden-bower the bride 

And bride-maids singing are: 

And hark the little vesper bell, 595 

Which biddeth me to prayer! 

O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been 
Alone on a wide wide sea: 
So lonely 'twas, that God himself 
Scarce seemed there to be. 600 

O sweeter than the marriage-feast, 
'Tis sweeter far to me, 


To walk together to the kirk 
With a goodly company! — 

To walk together to the kirk, 605 

And all together pray, 
While each to his great Father bends, 
Old men, and babes, and loving friends, 
And youths and maidens gay! 

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell 610 
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest! 
'He prayeth well, who loveth well 
Both man and bird and beast. 

He prayeth best, who loveth best 
All things both great and small; 615 
For the dear God who loveth us, 
He made and loveth all." 

And to teach, by 
his own example, 
love and rever- 
ence to all things 
that God made 
and loveth. 

The Mariner, whose eye is bright, 
Whose beard with age is hoar, 
r'^Js gone: and now the Wedding-Guest 620 
Turned from the bridegroom's door. 

He went like one that hath been stunned. 

And is of sense forlorn: 

A sadder and a wiser man, 

He rose the morrow morn. 625 




'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock, 
And the owls have awakened the crowing cock, 

Tu — whit! Tu — whoo! 

And hark, again! the crowing cock, 

How drowsily it crew. 5 

Sir Leoline, the Baron rich. 

Hath a toothless mastiff, which 

From her kennel beneath the rock 

Maketh answer to the clock, 

Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour; 10 

Ever and aye, by shine and shower. 

Sixteen short howls, not over loud; 

Some say, she sees my lady's shroud. 

Is the night chilly and dark? 

The night is chilly, but not dark. 15 

The thin grey cloud is spread on high, 

It covers but not hides the sky. 

The moon is behind, and at the full; 

And yet she looks both small and dull. 

The night is chill, the cloud is grey: 20 

'Tis a month before the month of May, 

And the Spring comes slowly up this way. 

The lovely lady, Christabel, 
Whom her father loves so well, 


What makes her in the wood so late, 25 

A furlong from the castle gate? 

She had dreams all yesternight 

Of her own betrothed knight; 

And she in the midnight wood will pray 

For the weal of her lover that's far away. 30 

She stole along, she nothing spoke, 

The sighs she heaved were soft and low, 

And naught was green upon the oak 

But moss and rarest mistletoe: 

She kneels beneath the huge oak tree, 35 

And in silence prayeth she. 

The lady sprang up suddenly. 

The lovely lady, Christabel ! 

It moaned as near as near can be, 

But what it is she cannot tell. 40 

On the other side it seems to be. 

Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak tree. 

The night is chill; the forest bare; 

Is it the wind that moaneth bleak? 

There is not wind enough in the air 45 

To move away the ringlet curl 

From the lovely lady's cheek — 

There is not wind enough to twirl 

The one red leaf, the last of its clan. 

That dances as often as dance it can, 50 

Hanging so light, and hanging so high. 

On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky. 


Hush, beating heart of Christabel! 
Jesu Maria, shield her well! 

She folded her arms beneath her cloak, 6b 

And stole to the other side of the oak. 
What sees she there? 

There she sees a damsel bright, 

Drest in a silken robe of white, 

That shadowy in the moonlight shone: 60 

The neck that made that white robe wan, 

Her stately neck, and arms were bare; 

Her blue- veined feet unsandaPd were. 

And wildly glittered here and there 

The gems entangled in her hair. 65 

I guess, 'twas frightful there to see 

A lady so richly clad as she — 

Beautiful exceedingly! 

' Mary mother, save me now! ' 

Said Christabel, ' And who art thou? ' 70 

The lady strange made answer meet. 

And her voice was faint and sweet : — 

' Have pity on my sore distress, 

I scarce can speak for weariness : ' 

' Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear! ' 75 

Said Christabel, ' How camest thou here? ' 

And the lady, whose voice was faint and sweet, 

Did thus pursue her answer meet: — 


' My sire is of a noble line, 

And my name is Geraldine: 80 

Five warriors seized me yestermorn, 

Me, even me, a maid forlorn: 

They choked my cries with force and fright, 

And tied me on a palfrey white. 

The palfrey was as fleet as wind, 85 

And they rode furiously behind. 

They spurred amain, their steeds were white: 

And once we crossed the shade of night. 

As sure as Heaven shall rescue me, 

I have no thought what men they l)e; 90 

Nor do I know how long it is 

(For I have lain entranced I wis) 

Since one, the tallest of the five, 

Took me from the palfrey's back, 

A weary woman, scarce alive. 95 

Some muttered words his comrades spoke: 

He placed me underneath this oak; 

He swore they would return with haste; 

Whither they went I cannot tell — 

I thought I heard, some minutes past, 100 

Sounds as of a castle bell. 

Stretch forth thy hand ' (thus ended she), 

' And help a wretched maid to flee.' 

Then Ghristabel stretched forth her hand. 

And comforted fair Geraldine: 105 

' O well, bright dame! may you command 

The service of Sir Leoline; 


And gladly our stout chivalry 

Will he send forth and friends withal 

To guide and guard you safe and free 110 

Home to your noble father's hall/ 

She rose: and forth with steps they passed 

That strove to be, and were not, fast. 

Her gracious stars the lady blest, 

And thus spake on sweet Christabel: 115 

' All our household are at rest, 

The hall as silent as the cell; 

Sir Leoline is weak in health. 

And may not well awakened be. 

But we will move as if in stealth, 120 

And I beseech your courtesy. 

This night, to share your couch with me/ 

They crossed the moat, and Christabel 

Took the key that fitted well; 

A little door she opened straight, 125 

All in the middle of the gate; 

The gate that was ironed within and without. 

Where an army in battle array had marched out. 

The lady sank, belike through pain, 

And Christabel with might and main 130 

Lifted her up, a weary weight. 

Over the threshold of the gate: 

Then the lady rose again. 

And moved, as she were not in pain. 


So free from danger, free from fear, 135 

They crossed the court: right glad they were. 

And Christabel devoutly cried 

To the lady by her side, 

' Praise we the Virgin all divine 

Who hath rescued thee from thy distress! ' 140 

' Alas, alas ! ' said Geraldine, 

' I cannot speak for weariness. ' 

So free from danger, free from fear. 

They crossed the court : right glad they were. 

Outside her kennel, the mastiff old 145 

Lay fast asleep, in moonshine cold. 

The mastiff old did not awake. 

Yet she an angry moan did make! 

And what can ail the mastiff bitch? 

Never till now she uttered yell 150 

Beneath the eye of Christabel. 

Perhaps it is the owlet's scritch: 

For what can ail the mastiff bitch? 

They passed the hall, that echoes still, 

Pass as lightly as you will ! 155 

The brands were flat, the brands were dying. 

Amid their own white ashes lying; 

But when the lady passed, there came 

A tongue of light, a fit of flame; 

And Christabel saw the lady's eye, 160 

And nothing else saw she thereby. 

Save the boss of the shield of Sir Leoline tall, 


Which hung in a murky old niche in the wall, 

' softly tread/ said Christabel, 

' My father seldom sleepeth well.' 165 

Sweet Christabel her feet doth bare, 

And jealous of the listening air 

They steal their way from stair to stair, 

Now in glimmer, and now in gloom, 

And now they pass the Baron's room, 170 

As still as death, with stifled breath! 

And now have reached her chamber door; 

And now doth Geraldine press down 

The rushes of the chamber floor. 

The moon shines dim in the open air, 175 

And not a moonbeam enters here. 

But they without its light can see 

The chamber carved so curiously, 

Carved with figures strange and sweet, 

All made out of the carver's brain, 180 

For a lady's chamber meet : 

The lamp with twofold silver chain 

Is fastened to an angel's feet. 

The silver lamp burns dead and dim; 

But Christabel the lamp will trim. 185 

She trimmed the lamp, and made it bright, 

And left it swinging to and fro, 

While Geraldine, in wretched plight, 

Sank down upon the floor below. 


' weary lady, Geraldine, 190 

I pray you, drink this cordial wine! 
It is a wine of virtuous powers; 
My mother made it of wild flowers.' 

' And will your mother pity me, 

Who am a maiden most forlorn? ' 195 

Christabel answered — ' Wo is me! 

She died the hour that I was born. 

I have heard the grey-haired friar tell 

How on her death-bed she did say, 

That she should hear the castle-bell 200 

Strike twelve upon my wedding-day. 

mother dear! that thou wert here! ' 

' I would,' said Geraldine, ' she were! ' 

But soon with altered voice, said she — 

'Off, wandering mother! Peak and pine! 205 

1 have power to bid thee flee.' 
Alas! what ails poor Geraldine? 
Why stares she with unsettled eye? 
Can she the bodiless dead espy? 

And why with hollow voice cries she, 210 

' Off, woman, off! this hour is mine — 
Though thou her guardian spirit be, 
Off, woman, off! 'tis given to me.' 

Then Christabel knelt by the lady's side, 

And raised to heaven her eyes so blue — 215 

' Alas! ' said she, ' this ghastly ride — 


Dear lady! it hath wildered you! ' 
The lady wiped her moist cold brow, 
And faintly said, ' 'tis over now!' 

Again the wild-flower wine she drank: 220 

Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter bright, 

And from the floor whereon she sank, 

The lofty lady stood upright : 

She was most beautiful to see. 

Like a lady of a far countree. 225 

And thus the lofty lady spake — 

' All they who live in the upper sky. 

Do love you, holy Christabel! 

And you love them, and for their sake 

And for the good which me befel, 230 

Even I in my degree will try, 

Fair maiden, to requite you well. 

But now unrobe yourself; for I 

Must pray, ere yet in bed I lie/ 

Quoth Christabel, ' So let it be! ' 235 

And as the lady bade, did she. 
Her gentle limbs did she undress. 
And lay down in her loveliness. 

But through her brain of weal and woe 

So many thoughts moved to and fro, 240 

That vain it were her lids to close; 

So half-way from the bed she rose, 


And on her elbow did recline 

To look at the lady Geraldine. 

Beneath the lamp the lady bowed, 245 

And slowly rolled her eyes around ; 

Then drawing in her breath aloud, 

Like one that shuddered, she unbound 

The cincture from beneath her breast: 

Her silken robe, and inner vest, 250 

Dropt to her feet, and full in view, 

Behold ! her bosom and half her side — 

A sight to dream of, not to tell! 

shield her! shield sweet Christabel! 

Yet Geraldine nor speaks nor stirs ; 255 

Ah! what a stricken look was hers! 

Deep from within she seems half-way 

To lift some weight with sick assay. 

And eyes the maid and seeks delay; 

Then suddenly, as one defied, 260 

Collects herself in scorn and pride. 

And lay down by the Maiden's side! — 

And in her arms the maid she took, 

Ah wel-a-day! 
And with low voice and doleful look 265 

These words did say: 

' In the touch of this bosom there worketh a spell. 
Which is lord of thy utterance, Christabel! 
Thou knowest to-night, and wilt know to-morrow. 
This mark of my shame, this seal of my sorrow; 270 
But vainly thou warrest, 


For this is alone in 
Thy power to declare, 

That in the dim forest 
Thou heard 'st a low moaning, 275 

And found 'st a bright lady, surpassingly fair; 
And didst bring her home with thee in love and in 

To shield her and shelter her from the damp air.' 


It was a' lovely sight to see 

The lady Christabel, when she 280 

Was praying at the old oak tree. 

Amid the jagged shadows, 

Of mossy leafless boughs, 

Kneeling in the moonlight, 

To make her gentle vows; 285 

Her slender palms together prest, 
Heaving sometimes on her breast ; 
Her face resigned to bliss or bale — • 
Her face, oh call it fair not pale, 

And both blue eyes more bright than clear, 290 

Each about to have a tear. 

With open eyes (ah woe is me!) 

Asleep, and dreaming fearfully. 

Fearfully dreaming, yet, I wis. 

Dreaming that alone, which is — 295 

O sorrow and shame! Can this be she. 

The lady, who knelt at the old oak tree? 


And lo! the worker of these harms, 

That holds the maiden in her arms, 

Seems to slumber still and mild, 300 

As a mother with her child. 

A star hath set, a star hath risen, 

O Geraldine! since arms of thine 

Have been the lovely lady's prison. 

O Geraldine! one hour was thine — 305 

Thou'st had thy will! By tairn and rill, 

The night birds all that hour were still. 

But now they are jubilant anew, 

From cliff and tower, tu — whoo! tu — whoo! 

Tu — whoo! tu — whoo! from wood and fell! 310 

And see! the lady Christabel 

Gathers herself from out her trance; 

Her limbs relax, her countenance 

Grows sad and soft; the smooth thin lids. 

Close o'er her eyes; and tears she sheds — 315 

Large tears that leave the lashes bright ! 

And oft the while she seems to smile 

As infants at a sudden light ! 

Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep, 

Like a youthful hermitess, 320 

Beauteous in the wilderness. 

Who, praying always, prays in sleep. 

And, if she move unquietly, 

Perchance, 'tis but the blood so free 

Comes back and tingles in her feet. 325 


No doubt, she hath a vision sweet. 

What if her guardian spirit 'twere, 

What if she knew her mother near? 

But this she knows, in joys and woes, 

That saints will aid if men will call: 330 

For the blue sky bends over all ! 


Each matin bell, the Baron saith, 

Knells us back to a world of death. 

These words Sir Leoline first said. 

When he rose and found his lady dead : 335 

These words Sir Leoline will say 

Many a morn to his dying day! 

And hence the custom and law began 

That still at dawn the sacristan. 

Who duly pulls the heavy bell, 340 

Five and forty beads must tell 

Between each stroke — a warning knell, 

Which not a soul can choose but hear 

From Bratha Head to Wyndermere. 

Saith Bracy the bard, So let it knell! 345 

And let the drowsy sacristan 

Still count as slowly as he can! 

There is no lack of such, I ween, 

As well fill up the space between. 

In Langdale Pike and Witch's Lair, 350 

And Dungeon-ghyll so foully rent, 


With ropes of rock and bells of air 

Three sinful sextons' ghosts are pent, 

Who all give back, one after t'other. 

The death-note to their living brother; 355 

And oft too, by the knell offended. 

Just as their one! two! three! is ended. 

The devil mocks the doleful tale 

With a merry peal from Borrowdale. 

The air is still ! through mist and cloud 360 

That merry peal comes ringing loud; 

And Geraldine shakes off her dread, 

And rises lightly from her bed; 

Puts on her silken vestments white, 

And tricks her hair in lovely plight, 365 

And nothing doubting of her spell 

Awakens the lady Christabel. 

'Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel? 

I trust that you have rested well/ 

And Christabel awoke and spied 370 

The same who lay down by her side — 

O rather say, the same whom she 

Raised up beneath the old oak tree! 

Nay, fairer yet! and yet more fair! 

For she belike hath drunken deep 375 

Of all the blessedness of sleep! 

And while she spake, her looks, her air, 

Such gentle thankfulness declare. 

That (so it seemed) her girded vests 


Grew tight beneath her heaving breasts. 380 

' Sure I have sinn'd ! ' said Christabel^ 

' Now heaven be praised if all be well ! ^ 

And in low faltering tones, yet sweet, 

Did she the lofty lady greet 

With such perplexity of mind 385 

As dreams too lively leave behind. 

So quickly she rose, and quickly arrayed 

Her maiden limbs, and having prayed 

That He, who on the cross did groan, 

Might wash away her sins unknown, 390 

She forthwith led fair Geraldine 

To meet her sire. Sir Leoline. 

The lovely maid and lady tall 

Are pacing both into the hall, 

And pacing on through page and groom, 395 

Enter the Baron's presence-room. 

The Baron rose, and while he prest 

His gentle daughter to his breast. 

With cheerful wonder in his eyes 

The lady Geraldine espies, 400 

And gave such welcome to the same 

As might beseem so bright a dame! 

But when he heard the lady's tale. 

And when she told her father's name, 

Why waxed Sir Leoline so pale, 405 


Murmuring o'er the name again, 
Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine? 

Alas! they had been friends in youth; 

But whispering tongues can poison truth; 

And constancy lives in realms above; 410 

And life is thorny; and youth is vain; 

And to be wroth with one we love 

Doth work like madness in the brain. 

And thus it chanced, as I divine, 

With Roland and Sir Leoline. 415 

Each spake words of high disdain 

And insult to his heart's best brother: 

They parted — ne'er to meet again! 

But never either found another 

To free the hollow heart from paining — 420 

They stood aloof, the scars remaining. 

Like cliffs which had been rent asunder; 

A dreary sea now flows between. 

But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder, 

Shall wholly do away, I ween, 425 

The marks of that which once hath been. 

Sir Leoline, a moment's space, 

Stood gazing on the damsel's face: 

And the youthful Lord of Tryermaine 

Came back upon his heart again. 430 

O then the Baron forgot his age. 

His noble heart swelled high with rage; 


He swore by the wounds in Jesu's side 

He would proclaim it far and wide, 

With trump and solemn heraldry, 435 

That they, who thus had wronged the dame 

Were base as spotted infamy! 

' And if they dare deny the same, 

My herald shall appoint a week. 

And let the recreant traitors seek 440 

My tourney court — that there and then 

I may dislodge their reptile souls 

From the bodies and forms of men!* 

He spake: his eye in lightning rolls! 

For the lady w^as ruthlessly seized; and he kenned 445 

In the beautiful lady the child of his friend ! 

And now the tears were on his face, 

And fondly in his arms he took 

Fair Geraldine, who met the embrace. 

Prolonging it with joyous look. 450 

Which when she viewed, a vision fell 

Upon the soul of Christabel, 

The vision of fear, the touch and pain! 

She shrunk and shuddered, and saw again — 

(Ah, woe is me! Was it for thee, 455 

Thou gentle maid! such sights to see?) 

Again she saw that bosom old. 

Again she felt that bosom cold, 

And drew in her breath with a hissing sound : 

Whereat the Knight turned wildly round, 460 


And nothing saw, but his own sweet maid 
With eyes upraised, as one that prayed. 

The touch, the sight, had passed away, 

And in its stead that vision blest, 

Which comforted her after-rest, 465 

While in the lady's arms she lay. 

Had put a rapture in her breast. 

And on her lips and o'er her eyes 

Spread smiles like light ! 

With new surprise, 
'What ails then my beloved child?' 470 

The Baron said. — His daughter mild 
Made answer, ' All will yet be well ! ' 
I ween, she had no power to tell 
Aught else: so mighty was the spell. 

Yet he, who saw this Geraldine, 475 

Had deemed her sure a thing divine. 

Such sorrow with such grace she blended, 

As if she feared she had offended 

Sweet Christabel, that gentle maid! 

And with such lowly tones she prayed 480 

She might be sent without delay 

Home to her father's mansion. 


Nay, by my soul ! ' said Leoline. 

'Ho! Bracy the bard, the charge be thine! 

Go thou, with music sweet and loud, 485 


And take two steeds with trappings proud, 

And take the youth whom thou lov'st best 

To bear thy harp, and learn thy song. 

And clothe you both in solemn vest, 

And over the mountains haste along, 490 

Lest wandering folk, that are abroad, 

Detain you on the valley road. 

'And when he has crossed the Irthing flood, 

My merry bard! he hastes, he hastes 

Up Knorren Moor, through Halegarth Wood, 495 

And reaches soon that castle good 

Which stands and threatens Scotland's wastes. 

'Bard Bracy! Bard Bracy! your horses are fleet, 

Ye must ride up the hall, your music so sweet. 

More loud than your horses' echoing feet ! 500 

And loud and loud to Lord Roland call. 

Thy daughter is safe in Langdale hall ! 

Thy beautiful daughter is safe and free — 

Sir Leoline greets thee thus through me. 

He bids thee come without delay 505 

With all thy numerous array; 

And take thy lovely daughter home: 

And he will meet thee on the way 

With all his numerous array 

White with their panting palfreys' foam: 510 

And, by mine honor! I will say. 

That I repent me of the day 

When I spake words of fierce disdain 


To Roland de Vaiix of Tryermaine! — 

For since that evil hour hath flown, 515 

Many a summer's sun hath shone; 

Yet ne'er found I a friend again 

Like Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine.' 

The lady fell, and clasped his knees, 
Her face upraised, her eyes o'erflowing; 520 

And Bracy replied, with faltering voice, 
His gracious hail on all bestowing; 
'Thy words, thou sire of Christabel, 
Are sweeter than my harp can tell; 
Yet might I gain a boon of thee, 525 

This day my journey should not be, 
So strange a dream hath come to me; 
That I had vowed with music loud 
To clear yon wood from thing unblest, 
Warn'd by a vision in my rest ! 530 

For in my sleep I saw that dove, 
That gentle bird, whom thou dost love, 
And call'st by thy own daughter's name — 
Sir Leoline! I saw the same, 

Fluttering, and uttering fearful moan, 535 

Among the green herbs in the forest alone. 
Which when I saw and when I heard, 
I wonder'd what might ail the bird; 
For nothing near it could I see. 

Save the grass and green herbs underneath the old 
tree. 540 


^And in my dream, methought, I went 

To search out what might there be found; 

And what the sweet bird's trouble meant, 

That thus lay fluttering on the ground. 

I went and peered, and could descry 545 

No cause for her distressful cry; 

But yet for her dear lady's sake 

I stooped, methought, the dove to take, 

When lo ! I saw a bright green snake 

Coiled around its wings and neck. 550 

Green as the herbs on which it couched. 

Close by the dove's its head it crouched ; 

And with the dove it heaves and stirs, 

Swelling its neck as she swelled hers! 

I woke; it was the midnight hour, 555 

The clock was echoing in the tower; 

But though my slumber was gone by, 

This dream it would not pass away — 

It seems to live upon my eye! 

And thence I vowed this self-same day - 560 

With music strong and saintly song 

To wander through the forest bare. 

Lest aught unholy loiter there.' 

Thus Bracy said : the Baron, the while. 

Half-listening heard him with a smile; 565 

Then turned to Lady Geraldine, 

His eyes made up of wonder and love. 

And said in courtly accents fine, 

'Sweet maid, Lord Roland's beauteous dove, 


With arms more strong than harp or song, 570 

Thy sire and I will crush the snake!' 

He kissed her forehead as he spake, 

And Geraldine in maiden wise 

Casting down her large bright eyes, 

With blushing cheek and courtesy fine 575 

She turned her from Sir Leoline; 

Softly gathering up her train, 

That o'er her right arm fell again; 

And folded her arms across her chest, 

And couched her head upon her breast, 580 

And looked askance at Christabel 

Jesu Maria, shield her well! 

A snake's small eye blinks dull and shy, 

And the lady's eyes they shrunk in her head. 

Each shrunk up to a serpent's eye, ^S^ 

And with somewhat of malice, and more of dread. 

At Christabel she look'd askance! — 

One moment — and the sight was fled! 

But Christabel in dizzy trance 

Stumbling on the unsteady ground 590 

Shuddered aloud, with a hissing sound; 

And Geraldine again turned round, 

And like a thing, that sought relief. 

Full of wonder and full of grief. 

She rolled her large bright eyes divine 595 

Wildly on Sir Leoline. 

The maid, alas! her thoughts are gone. 


She nothing sees — no sight but one! 

The maid, devoid of guile and sin, 

I know not how, in fearful wise, 600 

So deeply had she drunken in 

That look, those shrunken serpent eyes, 

That all her features were resigned 

To this eole image in her mind: 

And passively did imitate 605 

That look of dull and treacherous hate! 

And thus she stood, in dizzy trance. 

Still picturing that look askance 

With forced unconscious sympathy 

Full before her father's view 610 

As far as such a look could be 
In eyes so innocent and blue! 

And when the trance was o'er, the maid 

Paused awhile, and inly prayed: 

Then falling at the Baron's feet, 615 

' By my mother's soul do I entreat 

That thou this w^oman send away!' 

She said : and more she could not say : 

For what she knew she could not tell, 

O'er-mastered by the mighty spell. 620 

Why is thy cheek so wan and wild, 

Sir Leoline? Thy only child 

Lies at thy feet, thy joy, thy pride, 

So fair, so innocent, so mild; 

The same, for whom thy lady died! 625 


O, by the pangs of her dear mother 

Think thou no evil of thy child! ^ 

For her, and thee, and for no other, 

She prayed the moment ere she died, 

Prayed that the babe for whom she died, 630 

Might prove her dear lord's joy and pride! 

That prayer her deadly pangs beguiled, 

Sir Leoline! 
And wouldst thou wrong thy only child, 

Her child and thine? 635 

Within the Baron's heart and brain 

If thoughts, like these, had any share. 

They only swelled his rage and pain. 

And did but work confusion there. 

His heart was cleft with pain and rage, 640 

His cheeks they quivered, his eyes were wild, 

Dishonor'd thus in his old age; 

Dishonored by his only child. 

And all his hospitality 

To the insulted daughter of his friend 645 

By more than woman's jealousy 

Brought thus to a disgraceful end — 

He rolled his eye with stern regard 

Upon the gentle minstrel bard, 

And said in tones abrupt, austere — 650 

'Why, Bracy! dost thou loiter here? 

I bade thee hence!' The bard obeyed; 

And turning from his own sweet maid. 

The aged knight, Sir Leoline, 


Led forth the lady Geraldine! 655 


A little child, a limber elf, 

Singing, dancing to itself, 

A fairy thing with red round cheeks, 

That always finds, and never seeks, 

Makes such a vision to the sight 660 

As fills a father's eyes with light; 

And pleasures flow in so thick and fast 

Upon his heart, that he at last 

Must needs express his love's excess 

With words of unmeant bitterness. 665 

Perhaps 'tis pretty to force together 

Thoughts so all unlike each other; 

To mutter and mock a broken charm. 

To dally with wrong that does no harm. 

Perhaps 'tis tender, too, and pretty 670 

At each wild word to feel within 

A sweet recoil of love and pity. 

And what, if in a world of sin 

(O sorrow and shame should this be true!) 

Such giddiness of heart and brain 675 

Comes seldom save from rage and pain, 

So talks as it's most used to do. 



In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 

A stately pleasure-dome decree: 

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran 

Through caverns measureless to man 

Down to a sunless sea. 5 

So twice five miles of fertile ground 

With walls and towers were girdled round: 

And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills, 

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; 

And here were forests ancient as the hills, 10 

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. 

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted 

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! 

A savage place ! as holy and enchanted 

As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted 15 

By woman wailing for her demon-lover! 

And from this chasm, wdth ceaseless turmoil seething. 

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, 

A mighty fountain momently was forced : 

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst 20 

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail. 

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail : 

And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever 

It flung up momently the sacred river. 

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion 25 

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, 

Then reached the caverns measureless to man, 


And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean: 
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far 
Ancestral voices prophesying war! 30 

The shadow of the dome of pleasure 

Floated midway on the waves; 

Where was heard the mingled measure 

From the fountain and the caves. 
It was a miracle of rare device, 35 

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice! 

A damsel with a dulcimer 

In a vision once I saw: 

It was an Abyssinian maid, 

And on her dulcimer she played, 40 

Singing of Mount Abora. 

Could I revive within me 

Her symphony and song, 

To such a deep delight 'twould win me, 
That with music loud and long, 45 

I would build that dome in air. 
That sunny dome! those caves of ice! 
And all who heard should see them there, 
And all should cry. Beware! Beware! 
His flashing eyes, his floating hair! 50 

Weave a circle round him thrice, 
And close your eyes with holy dread, 
For he on honey-dew hath fed. 
And drunk the milk of Paradise. 



Ere on my bed my limbs I- lay, 

It hath not been my use to pray 

With moving lips or bended knees; 

But silently, by slow degrees, 

My spirit I to Love compose, 5 

In humble trust mine eyelids close. 

With reverential resignation, 

No wish conceived, no thought exprest, 

Only a sense of supplication; 

A sense o'er all my soul imprest 10 

That I am weak, yet not unblest. 

Since in me, round me, everywhere 

Eternal strength and wisdom are. 

But yester-night I prayed aloud 

In anguish and in agony, 15 

Up-starting from the fiendish crowd 

Of shapes and thoughts that tortured me: 

A lurid light, a trampling throng. 

Sense of intolerable wrong. 

And whom I scorned, those only strong! 20 

Thirst of revenge, the powerless will 

Still baffled, and yet burning still! 

Desire with loathing strangely mixed 

On wild or hateful objects fixed. 

Fantastic passions! maddening brawl! 25 

And shame and terror over all ! 

Deeds to be hid which were not hid, 


Which all confused I could not know, 

Whether I suffered, or I did: 

For all seemed guilt, remorse, or woe, 30 

My own or others', still the same 

Life-stifling fear, soul-stifiing shame. 

So two nights passed; the night's dismay 

Saddened and stunned the coming day. 

Sleep, the wide blessing, seemed to me 35 

Distemper's worst calamity. 

The third night, when my own loud scream 

Had waked me from the fiendish dream, 

O'ercome with sufferings strange and wild," 

I wept, as I had been a child; 40 

And having thus by tears subdued 

My anguish to a milder mood, 

Such punishments, I said, were due 

To natures deepliest stained with sin, — 

For aye entempesting anew 45 

The unfathomable hell within 

The horror of their deeds to view. 

To know and loathe, yet wish and do! 

Such griefs with such men well agree, 

But wherefore, wherefore fall on me? 50 

To be beloved is all I need, 

And whom I love, I love indeed. 



Written A pril 4, 1802 

Late, late yestreen I saw the new Moon, 
With the old Moon in her arms; 
And I fear, I fear, my Master dear! 
We shall have a deadly storm. 

Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence. 

Well! If the Bard was weather-wise who made 
The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence, 
This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence 
Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade 
Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes, 5 
Or the dull sobbing draft, that moans and rakes 
Upon the strings of this Eolian lute, 
Which better far were mute. 
For lo! the New-moon winter-bright! 
And overspread with phantom light, 10 

(With swimming phantom light o'erspread 
But rimmed and circled by a silver thread) 
I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling 

The coming on of rain and squally blast. 
And oh! that even now the gust were swelling, 

And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast! 15 
Thosesounds which oft have raised me, whilst thej^awed. 

And sent my soul abroad, 
Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give, 
Might startle this dull pain, and make it move and 
live! 20 



A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear, 
A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief, 
Which finds no natural outlet, no relief, 
In word, or sigh, or tear — 

Lady! in this wan and heartless mood, 25 
To other thoughts by yonder throstle wooed, 

All this long eve, so balmy and serene. 
Have I been gazing on the western sky, 

And its peculiar tint of yellow green : 
And still I gaze — and with how blank an eye! 30 
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars, 
That give away their motion to the stars; 
Those stars, that glide behind them or between, . 
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen: 
Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew 35 

In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue; 

1 see them all so excellently fair, 

I see, not feel, how beautiful they are! 


My genial spirits fail; 

And what can these avail 40 

To lift the smothering weight from off my breast? 

It were a vain endeavor, 

Though I should gaze forever 
On that green light that lingers in the west: 
I may not hope from outward forms to win 45 

The passion and the life, whose fountains are within. 



O Lady! we receive but what we give, 

And in our life alone does Nature live: 

Ours is her Avedding-garment, ours her shroud! 

And would we aught behold, of higher worth, 50 
Than that inanimate cold world allowed 
To the poor loveless ever-anxious crowd. 

Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth, 
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud 

Enveloping the Earth — 55 

And from the soul itself must there be sent 

A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth. 
Of all sweet sounds the life and element! 

O pure of heart ! thou need'st not ask of me 

What this strong music in the soul may be! 60 

What, and wherein it doth exist. 

This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist. 

This beautiful and beauty-making power. 

Joy, virtuous Lady! Joy that ne'er was given. 
Save to the pure, and in their purest hour, 65 

Life, and Life's effluence, cloud at once and shower, 
Joy, Lady! is the spirit and the power. 
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dower, 

A new Earth and new Heaven, 
Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud — 70 

Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud — 
We in ourselves rejoice! 


And thence flows all that charms or ear or sight, 

All melodies the echoes of that voice, 
All colors a suffusion from that light. 75 


There was a time when, though my path was rough, 
This joy within me dallied with distress. 

And all misfortunes were but as the stuff 

Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness: 

For hope grew round me, like the twining vine, 80 

And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine. 

But now afflictions bow me down to earth: 

Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth, 
But oh! each visitation 

Suspends what nature gave me at my birth, 85 

My shaping spirit of Imagination. 

For not to think of what I needs must feel, 
But to be still and patient, all I can; 

And haply by abstruse research to steal 

From my own nature all the natural man — 90 
This was my sole resource, my only plan: 

Till that which suits a part infects the whole. 

And now is almost grown the habit of my soul. 


Hence, viper thoughts, that coil around my mind, 

Reality's dark dream! 95 

I turn from you, and listen to the wind. 

Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream 


Of agony by torture lengthened out 
That lute sent forth! Thou Wind, that rav'st without, 
Bare crag, or mountain-tairn, or blasted tree, 100 
Or pine-grove whither woodman never clomb, 
Or lonely house, long held the witches' home, 
Methinks were fitter instruments for thee. 
Mad Lutanist! who in this month of showers. 
Of dark brown gardens, and of peeping flowers, 105 
Mak'st Devils' yule, with worse than wintry song. 
The blossoms, buds, and timorous leaves among. 
Thou Actor, perfect in all tragic sounds! 
Thou mighty Poet, e'en to frenzy bold! 

What tell'st thou now about? 110 

'Tis of the rushing of an host in rout. 
With groans of trampled men, with smarting 
wounds — 
At once they groan with pain, and shudder with the 

But hush! there is a pause of deepest silence! 

And all that noise, as of a rushing crowd. 
With groans, and tremulous shudderings — all is 
over — 115 

It tells another tale, with sounds less deep and loud ! 
A tale of less affright, 
And tempered with delight, 
As Otway's self had framed the tender lay — 120 

'Tis of a little child 
Upon a lonesome wild, 
Not far from home, but she hath lost her way : 
And now moans low in bitter grief and fear, 


And now screams loud, and hopes to make her mother 
hear. 125 


'Tis midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep: 
Full seldom may my friend such vigils keep! 
Visit her, gentle Sleep! with wings of healing, 

And may this storm be but a mountain birth, 
May all the stars hang bright above her dwelling, 130 

Silent as though they watched the sleeping Earth! 
With light heart may she rise. 
Gay fancy, cheerful eyes, 

Joy lift her spirit, joy attune her voice; 
To her may all things live, from pole to pole, 135 

Their life the eddying of her living soul! 

O simple spirit, guided from above. 
Dear Lady! friend devoutest of my choice. 
Thus mayest thou ever, evermore rejoice. 


Verse, a Breeze 'mid blossoms straying, 
Where Hope clung feeding, like a bee — 
Both were mine! Life went a-maying 

With Nature, Hope, and Poesy, 

When I was young! 5 

When I was young? — Ah, woeful When! 
Ah, for the Change 'twixt Now and Then! 
This breathing house not built with hands. 
This body that does me grievous wrong, 
O'er aery cliffs and glittering sands, 10 


How lightly then it flashed along : — 

Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore, 

On winding lakes and rivers wide, 

That ask no aid of sail or oar, 

That fear no spite of wind or tide! 15 

Nought cared this body for wind or weather 

When Youth and I lived in't together. 

Flowers are lovely; Love is flower-like; 

Friendship is a sheltering tree; 

O! the joys, that came down shower-like, 20 

Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty, 

Ere I was old ! 
Ere I was old? — Ah, woeful Ere, 
Which tells me. Youth's no longer here! 

Youth! for years so many and sweet, 25 
'Tis known, that Thou and I were one, 

I'll think it but a fond conceit — 

It cannot be that thou art gone! 

Thy Vesper-bell hath not yet tolled : — 

And thou wert aye a masker bold ! 30 

What strange disguise hast now put on. 

To make believe, that thou art gone? 

1 see these locks in silvery slips. 
This drooping gait, this altered size: 

But Springtide blossoms on thy lips, 35 

And tears take sunshine from thine eyes! 
Life is but thought : so think I will 
That Youth and I are housemates still. 


Dewdrops are the gems of morning, 

But the tears of mournful eve! 40 

Where no hope is, life's a warning 

That only serves to make us grieve, 

When we are old : 

That only serves to make us grieve 

With oft and tedious taking-leave, < 45 

Like some poor nigh-related guest, 

That may not rudely be dismist ; 

Yet hath outstay'd his welcome while. 

And tells the jest without the smile. 


Do you ask what the birds say? The sparrow, the 

The linnet, and thrush, say, "I love and I love!" 
In the winter they're silent — the wind is so strong. 
What it says I don't know, but it sings a loud song. 
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm 

weather, 5 

And singing, and loving — all come back together. 
But the lark is so brimful of gladness and love, 
The green fields below him, the blue sky above, 
That he sings, and he sings; and forever sings he — 
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!" 10 



To THE River Otter 

Dear native Brook! wild Streamlet of the West! 

How many various-fated years have passed, 

What happy and what mournful hours, since last 
I skimmed the smooth thin stone along thy breast, 

Numbering its light leaps! Yet so deep imprest 5 
Sink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyes 
I never shut amid the sunny ray, — 

But straight with all their tints thy waters rise, 
Thy crossing plank, thy marge with willows grey, — 

And bedded sand that, veined with various dyes, 10 
Gleamed through thy bright transparence! On my 

Visions of Childhood! oft have ye beguiled 
Lone manhood's cares, yet waking fondest sighs: 

Ah! that once more I were a careless child. 



Ye Clouds ! that far above me float and pause, 
Whose pathless march no mortal may control! 
Ye Ocean-Waves! that, wheresoe'er ye roll, 

Yield homage only to eternal laws! 

Ye Woods! that listen to the night-birds singing, 5 
Midway the smooth and perilous slope reclined. 

Save when your own imperious branches swinging. 


Have made a solemn music of the wind ! 

Where, Uke a man beloved of God, 
Through glooms which never woodman trod, 10 

How oft, pursuing fancies holy. 
My moonlight way o'er flowering weeds I wound, 

Inspired, beyond the guess of folly. 
By each rude shape and wild unconquerable sound ! 
O ye loud Waves! and O ye Forests high! 15 

And O ye Clouds that far above me soared ! 
Thou rising Sun! thou blue rejoicing Sky! 
Yea, everything that is and will be free! 
Bear witness for me, wheresoe'er ye be. 
With what deep worship I have still adored 20 

The spirit of divinest Liberty. 

When France in wrath her giant-limbs upreared. 
And with that oath, which smote air, earth, and sea. 
Stamped with her strong foot and said she would 
be free. 
Bear witness for me, how I hoped and feared! 25 

With what a joy my lofty gratulation 

Unawed I sang, amid a slavish band : 
And when to whelm the disenchanted nation. 
Like fiends embattled by a wizard's wand, 

The Monarchs marched in evil day, 30 

And Britains joined the dire array; 
Though dear her shores and circling ocean. 
Though many friendships, many youthful loves, 
Had swol'n the patriot emotion, 


And flung a magic light o'er all her hills and groves; 35 
Yet still my voice, unaltered, sang defeat, 

To all that braved the tyrant-quelling lance, 
And shame too long delayed and vain retreat ! 
For ne'er, O Liberty! with partial aim 
I dimmed thy light or damped thy holy flame; 40 

But blessed the paeans of delivered France, 
And hung my head and wept at Britain's name. 


^ And what,' I said, Hhough Blasphemy's loud scream 

With that sweet music of deliverance strove! 

Though all the fierce and drunken passions wove 45 
A dance more wild than e'er was maniac's dream! 

Ye storms, that round the dawning east assembled, 
The Sun w^as rising, though ye hid his light ! ' 

And w^hen, to soothe my soul, that hoped and 
The dissonance ceased, and all seemed calm and 
bright ; 50 

When France her front deep-scarr'd and gory 

Concealed with clustering wreaths of glory; 
When, insupportably advancing, 

Her arm made mockery of the warrior's ramp; 
While timid looks of fury glancing, 55 

Domestic treason, crushed beneath her fatal stamp, 
Writhed like a wounded dragon in his gore; 

Then I reproached my fears that would not flee; 
'And soon,' I said, 'shall Wisdom teach her lore 
In the low huts of them that toil and groan ! 60 


And, conquering by her happiness alone, 

Shall France compel the nations to be free. 
Till Love and Joy look round, and call the Earth 
their own.' 


Forgive me, Freedom! forgive those dreams! 

I hear thy voice, I hear thy loud lament, 65 

From bleak Helvetia's icy cavern sent — 
I hear thy groans upon her blood-stained streams! 

Heroes, that for your peaceful country perished. 
And ye, that fleeing, spot your mountain-snows 

With bleeding wounds; forgive me, that I cherished 
One thought that ever blessed your cruel foes! 71 

To scatter rage, and traitorous guilt. 

Where Peace her jealous home had built ; 
A patriot-race to disinherit 
Of all that made their stormy wilds so dear; 75 

And wdth inexpiable spirit 
To taint the bloodless freedom of the mountaineer — 
O France, that mockest Heaven, adulterous, blind. 

And patriot only in pernicious toils. 
Are these thy boasts. Champion of humankind? 80 

To mix with Kings in the low lust of sway. 
Yell in the hunt, and share the murderous prey; 
To insult the shrine of Liberty with spoils 

From freemen torn; to tempt and to betray? 


The Sensual and the Dark rebel in vain, 85 

Slaves by their own compulsion! In mad game 


They burst their manacles and wear the name 

Of Freedom, graven on a heavier chain! 
O Liberty! with profitless endeavor 
Have I pursued thee, many a weary hour; 90 

But thou nor swelPst the victor's strain, nor ever 
Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power. 
Alike from all, howe'er they praise thee 
(Nor prayer, nor boastful name delays thee), 

Alike from Priestcraft's harpy minions, 95 

And factious Blasphemy's obscener slaves. 
Thou speedest on thy subtle pinions. 
The guide of homeless winds, and playmate of the 

waves : 
And there I felt thee! — on that sea-cliff's verge, 

Whose pines, scarce traveled by the breeze above. 
Had made one murmur with the distant surge! 101 
Yes, while I stood and gazed, my temples bare, 
And shot my being through earth, sea, and air, 
Possessing all things with intensest love, 

0, Liberty! my spirit felt thee there. 105 



Motto: " I can easily believe that there are more invisible than 
visible beings in the universe. But who will explain to us the 
nature of all these, the rank, the relationships, the character- 
istics and functions of each. What are their occupations? 
What regions do they inhabit? Ever about the complete under- 
standing of these things the human mind has circled, yet never 
has reached it. Meanwhile, it is profitable, I admit, sometimes 
to contemplate in the mind, as in a picture, the image of this 
greater and better world; lest the mind, accustomed to the 
petty details of daily life, be too much narrowed, or sink wholly 
into trivial thoughts. But we must, meanwhile, watch dili- 
gently for the truth, and maintain moderation of judgment, in 
order that we may distinguish the certain from the uncertain, 
day from night." 

The motto is from Thomas Burnet, an English writer who 
died in 1715. He was the author of a remarkable treatise 
explaining the origin of the world, entitled Teluris Theoria 
Sacra, which was once regarded as scientific. Another work, 
from which the motto is quoted, bears the title, Archoeologioe 
Philosophicce: sive Doctrina Antiqua de Rerum Originibus. 

Rime: This word generally signifies the likeness of terminal 
sounds in verse, but here it is the whole composition, a tale in 
verse, like Chaucer's "rym" of Sir Thopas. This is the proper 
spelling of the word, from the Anglo-Saxon rim, the form rhyjiie 
being a confusion with the classic rhythm that began about 1550. 
Coleridge, of course, adopted this form for its antique flavor. 

The gloss: The quaint prose commentary or gloss was an 


118 NOTES 

afterthought, added in the edition of 1817. Its artistic value 
should be tested. Read it through once continuously, as a 
prose version of the story. Walter Pater suggests that this 
commentary indicates the origin of the poem as "a flower of 
mediaeval or later German romance, growing up in the peculiarly 
compounded atmosphere of modern psychological speculation," 
and that it connects the poem with Coleridge's philosophy, em- 
phasizing his psychological interest, which is "its curious soul- 
lore." W. P. Ker, in Craik's English Prose, Vol. V, estimates 
this marginal gloss to be " one of his finest compositions, in an 
unfamiliar mood; a translation or transposition of his poem, 
for a purely artistic end." 

1. It is, etc.: The abrupt beginning is thoroughly in the 
manner of the old ballads, as in Edom o' Gordon, "It fell about 
the Martinmas," and in The Fair Flower of Northumberland, "It 
was a knight in Scotland born." So Longfellow begins the 
Wreck of the Hesperus, "It was the schooner Hesperus." 

The keynote of the whole poem is sounded in the words 
Ancient Mariner, suggesting the remote, strange, weird, and 
uncanny. The effect of the phrase throughout the poem is 
worth special study. Change the words anywhere to their 
verbal equivalent. Old Sailor, and note (and explain) the differ- 
ence of meaning and effect. 

2. One of three: The number three, with its multiple nine, 
was associated with mysterious powers. The witches in Macbeth 
are three and they dance three times around the caldron. In 
classic lore there are three Fates, three Furies, three Graces, 
and three times three Muses. Compare De Quincey's use of the 
number in Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow. Note the simple 
definiteness of the phrase. In ballad composition many details 
are omitted, but such as are given are presented with the em- 
phasis of direct and precise expression. 

3. By thy long grey beard, etc.: Notice the indirect method 
of description, and the abruptness and rush of the whole stanza. 
The Mariner seems to fascinate the wedding-guest with his 
glittering eye, as with an "evil eye." The snake has a glittering 

NOTES iiy 

eye when it is supposed to charm its prey. The snake eye of the 
witch in Christabel, through which her mahgn influence is 
exerted, is the chief motive of the poem, hke a prevailing mo- 
tive in a musical composition. 

8. Mayst hear: The omission of the subject gives the effect 
of haste and impatience. 

9-12. In the original edition of 1798 two stanzas stood in place 
of this stanza. Explain the improvement in this condensation: 

" But still he holds the wedding-guest — 

There was a Ship, quoth he — 
'Nay, if thou'st got a laughsome tale, 
Marinere! come with me.' 

He holds him with his skinny hand, 

Quoth he, there was a Ship — 
'Now get thee hence, thou grey-beard Loon! 
Or my Staff shall make thee skip.' " 

11. Loon: A stupid fellow, clown; then opprobriously a fool, 
dolt. Compare Macbeth 's "cream-faced loon" (Macbeth, V, 3, 

12. Eftsoons: At once, forthwith. 

15-16. These two lines were contributed by Wordsworth, 
and also 11. 226, 227. Note the sudden changes of tense in 
this and the preceding stanza, and throughout the poem. What 
special effects are obtained by this device? 

18. He cannot choose, etc. : Coleridge's power over his hearers 
has often been compared to that of his Mariner. John Sterling 
says: "With all the kindness and glorious far-seeing intelligence 
of his eye, there is a glare in it, a light half unearthly, half 
morbid. It is the glittering eye of the Ancient Mariner." Sim- 
ilarly Mary Cowden Clarke says: "Like his own Ancient 
Mariner, when he had once fixed your eye he held you spell- 
bound, and you were constrained to hsten to his tale." 

23. Below the kirk, etc.: One by one the objects on shore 
disappear. Kirk is the northern form of church, still used in 
Scotland. The swiftness of the narrative here, as in so many 
stanzas, should be noticed. 

120 NOTES 

25-28. Where is the ship represented to be in these lines? 
This stanza, says Mrs. Ohphant {Literary History of England) is 
a "grand image of the lonehness, the isolation from all other 
created things, of that speck upon the boundless, noiseless 
waters. Throughout the whole poem this sentiment of isolation 
is preserved with a magical and most impressive reahty." 
Compare Lowell's impression in Leaves from My Journal — At 
Sea: "A cloudless sunrise in mid-ocean is beyond comparison 
for simple grandeur. It is like Dante's style, bare and perfect. 
Naked sun meets naked sea, the true classic of nature." 

30. Over the mast at noon: The ship has now reached the 
Line, or equator. 

32. Bassoon: Mrs. Sanford in Thomas Poole and his Friends, 
suggests that the hint for this line came from the fact that 
"during Coleridge's residence in Stowey his friend Poole re- 
formed the church choir, and added a bassoon to its resources." 

34. Red as a rose: A common simile in the old ballads, bor- 
rowed by Coleridge to give the true ballad flavor. 

36. Minstrelsy: The minstrels, musicians; abstract for the 

37-38. Repetition was common in the old ballads, often 
signifying little or nothing. Here it has a special force. The 
wedding-guest makes another attempt to get away, but is 
forced to stay by the spell that is upon him. 

41-44. Drawn (gloss); Campbell changes this word to driven, 
l^elieving this to be the w^ord that Coleridge wrote. In the 
Argument we find "was driven by Storms." 

This stanza and the next are in place of the following stanza 
in the original edition: 

" Listen, Stranger! Storm and Wind, 
A Wind and Tempest strong! 
For days and weeks it play'd us freaks — 
Like Chaff we drove along." 

41. "The personification is to prepare the way for a world 
in w^hich the weather and the birds and sea-monsters are almost 
as human as man." — Woodherry. 

NOTES 121 

46. As who: As one who. 

47. Still treads the shadow: The monstrous pursuer follows 
the pursued so closely that he cannot even get out of the shadow 
of the foe, cast over him when the sun is behind. Still is in the 
sense of ever, continually. The imagery is suggestive of swift 
and violent movement. 

51-70. This description is thought to have been suggested 
by passages in Captain James's Strange and Dangerous Voyage 
in search of the North West Passage, published in 1633. Camp- 
bell selects the following entries from Captain James's log as 
the material from which Coleridge probably extracted his 
poetry: "All day and all night, it snow'd hard"; "The nights 
are very cold; so that our rigging freezes"; "It prooved very 
thicke foule weather, and the next day, by two a Clocke in the 
morning, we found ourselves incompassed about with Ice"; 
"We had Ice not farre off about us, and some pieces as high 
as our Top-mast-head"; "The seventeenth ... we heard . . . 
the rutt against a banke of Ice that lay on the Shoare. It 
made a hollow and hideous noyse, like an over-fall of water, 
which made us to reason amongst our selves concerning it, for 
we were not able to see about us, it being darke night and 
foggie' ; "The Ice . , . crackt all over the Bay, with a fearful 
noyse"; "These great pieces that came agrounde began to 
breake with a most terrible thundering noyse"; "This morning 
... we unfastened our Ship, and came to Saile, steering be- 
twixt great pieces of Ice that were agrounde in 40 fad., and 
twice as high as our Top-mast-head." 

55. Drifts: Driving clouds of snow and mist, "snow-fog" it 
is in the gloss. Clifts is an archaic form for cliffs. 

56. Dismal sheen: The cold luster of snow surfaces. 

57. Ken: Descry. "After rnany dayes sayling, they kenned 
land afarre off." — Hakluyt's Voyages. 

62. Like noises in a swound: "What more weirdly imagined 
of the 'cracks and growls' of the rending iceberg than that 
they sounded 'hke noises in a swound.'" — Traill. Swound is 
the obsolete form of swoon. 

122 NOTES 

63. Albatross: A sea-bird of the petrel family, inhabiting the 
southern seas and the Pacific ocean. They are "the largest 
known sea-birds and are noted for their powers of flight, sailing 
for hours, and in any direction with reference to the wind, 
without visible movement of the wings. . . . From their habit 
of following ships for days together without resting, albatrosses 
are regarded with feelings of attachment and superstitious awe 
by sailors, it being considered unlucky to kill one." — Century 

The albatross theme was supplied by Wordsworth, suggested 
by passages in Shelvocke's Voyage Round the V/orld, published 
in 1726, which he had just been reading. The passages in 
Wordsworth's mind are the following: "These were accompanied 
by Albitrosses, the largest sort of sea-fowls, some of them ex- 
tending their wings 12 or 13 foot. . . . We all observed that 
we had not the sight of one fish of any kind, since we were 
come to the Southward of the streights of le Mair, nor one 
sea-bird, except a disconsolate black Albitross, who accompanied 
us for several days, hovering about us as if he had lost himself, 
till Hatley (my second Captain) observing, in one of his melan- 
choly fits, that this bird was always hovering near us, imagin'd, 
from his colour, that it might be some ill omen. That which, I 
suppose, induced him the more to encourage his superstition, 
was the continued series of contrary tempestuous winds, which 
had oppress 'd us ever since we had got into this sea. But be 
that as it would, he, after some fruitless attempts, at length, 
shot the Albitross, not doubting (perhaps) that we should have 
a fair wind after it." 

64. Thorough: The old form of through, used for the sake of 
the meter, as well as for antique flavor. 

67. For this line Coleridge originally wrote: 

"The Marineres gave it biscuit-worms." 

69. Thunder-fit : Noise like a thunder-clap. Fit is a sudden and 
violent movement or spasm. Spenser has bitter fitt in the sense 
of fatal stroke, or, possibly, death spasm (Fairy Queen, I, 2, 18). 

NOTES 123 

76. Vespers nine: Nine evenings. The evening religious ser- 
vice in the Roman and English churches is called vespers. 
Notice that the Albatross is called, in the gloss, "the pious 

79-81. The Mariner's struggle with his emotions, as depicted 
in his face, is most forcibly described indirectly by giving the 
effect upon the listeners. This, too, is the method of the swift 
moving ballad, to give effects, without explanations. 

81. Cross-bow: Does the cross-bow indicate the period of the 
poem? Are there other indications of a particular period? What 
is the period of the English ballads? 

82. I shot the Albatross: Consider the forceful abruptness of 
this chmax. Dwelling upon the story of the bird, the Mariner 
has approached slowly and with dread the confession of his 
crime. When it comes, it is expressed in a few, but deeply 
significant words. Because the kilHng of the Albatross is the 
chief motive of the poem, an allusion to it recurs at the end 
of each "Part." 

83-86. In what direction is the ship now sailing? When was 
the course changed? See 11. 25-28. 

92. Work 'em: Is Coleridge justified in using this colloquial- 

97. Like God's own head: This phrase must be read with 
Sun uprisf. Upon these lines Dowden remarks: "How majesti- 
cally the sunrise at sea is expressed. ... It is like the solemn 
apparition of one of the chief actors in this strange drama of 
crime, and agony, and expiation, and in the new sense of wonder 
with which we witness that oldest spectacle of the heavens we 
can well believe in other miracles." 

98. Uprist: An early English contracted form of the third 
person singular of the present tense. Chaucer has the Sonne 
uprist, the sun rises; but Coleridge apparently uses the word as 
a preterite, uprose. Cf. the provincial form ris. 

104. Followed free: In the edition of 1817 Coleridge changed 
these words to streamed off free, explaining in a footnote his 
reason; "I had not been long on board a ship before I perceived 

124 NOTES 

that this was the image as seen by a spectator from the shore, 
or from another vessel. From the ship itself the wake appears 
like a broad flowing off from the stern." But the more musical 
form prevailed with his judgment finally, in spite of the literal 
fact, for in the edition of 1828 he restored it. 

107. Notice the peculiar appropriateness of the words selected 
to indicate the sudden change in the ship's movement. Compare 
the swiftly-gliding lines 105-106. 

109. Hales notes here that "a common provincial pronuncia- 
tion of break is breek. This would set right the internal rhyme 
of the line. 

113. Right up above the mast: The ship has again reached 
the Line. 

114. No bigger than the Moon: The simile is somewhat sur- 
prising, as the apparent diameter of the moon is greater than 
that of the sun. But we know that the moon is smaller, and in 
the light of that knowledge it becomes smaller to the eye. 

117. A painted ship: Hales recalls Hamlet, II, 2, 503: "So as 
a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood." 

125. "This is as far as the imagination can go in describing 
a sea so putrefying that it seems almost to support monsters 
like an ooze." — Woodberry. 

127. About, about: Compare the witches' dance in Macbeth, 
I, 3, 33. Rout is a disorderly or confused crowd of people. 

128. Death-fires: St. Elmo's fires or corposants, lights sup- 
posed to be of an electrical origin that play about the rigging 
of ships, which to the superstitious sailor portend death. See 
Tempest, I, 2, 196. Compare also corpse-light, and fetch-candle. 
Coleridge has in the Ode to the Departing Year: 

" Mighty armies of the dead 
Dance like death-fires round her tomb." 

129-130. The water, etc. : The phosphorescence on the water's 
surface is here described, the beautiful and mysterious light be- 
lieved to be "emitted from the bodies of certain marine animals." 
Witch's oils suggests the practices of the old necromancers. 

NOTES 125 

132, Spirit: The avenging spirit of animate nature, called 
later the Polar Spirit. See 11. 402-405 and gloss. Coleridge's 
suggestion that we consult the ancient authorities for these 
earth spirits or demons need not be taken seriously. Out of 
the "vasty deep" of his book-knowledge he could easily draw 
the material for a scheme of supernaturalism suited to the 
moral and artistic purposes of his poem. Professor Noyes sug- 
gests an interesting comparison with Cardinal Newman's belief 
about angels, explained in the first chapter of his Apologia pro 
Vita Sua. Those who are curious and not too busy will find 
much quaint learning upon the subject in Burton's Anatomy of 
Melancholy, more accessible than Michael Psellus, in which 
(Part I, sec. 2, "A Digression of the Nature of Spirits") there 
are frequent quotations from Psellus, who is called ''a great 
observer of the nature of devils." 

133. Nine fathom deep: Nine merely because that is a mystical 
number. The spirit is merely invisible. Of Coleridge's treat- 
ment of the supernatural element Pater says: "It is the delicacy, 
the dreamy grace in his presentation of the marvelous, which 
makes Coleridge's work so remarkable. The too palpable in- 
truders from a spiritual world, in almost all ghost literature, in 
Scott and Shakspere even, have a kind of coarseness or crude- 
ness. Coleridge's power is in the very fineness with which, as 
with some really ghostly finger, he brings home to our inmost 
sense his inventions, daring as they are — the skeleton ship, the 
polar spirit, the inspiriting of the dead bodies of the ship's 
crew" (Ward's English Poets, IV). 

139. Well-a-day: A variant of well-a-way, an exclamation 
of grief or distress, equivalent to alas, from Anglo-Saxon 
wd la wd, woe lo woe; common in the old literature, especially 
in the ballads. When Tybalt is slain by Romeo, the nurse cries 
out to Juhet: '-Ah, well-a-day! he's dead . . . we are undone 
. . . alack the day!" 

141. Instead of the cross, etc.: The meaning seems to be, 
instead of the symbol of purity and redemption, the symbol of 
his guilt and condemnation is hung about his neck. Possibly 

126 NOTES 

the sailor, as a good Catholic, was wearing a cross, which he was 
no longer worthy to wear. There are frequent allusions in the 
poem to the behefs and practices of the CathoHc Church. 

In his English Note Books Hawthorne speaks of an albatross 
in the Warwick Museum which was ''huge beyond imagination," 
and remarks: "I do not think that Coleridge could have known 
the size of the fowl when he caused it to be hung round the 
neck of his Ancient Mariner" (Noyes). Is the poet's conception 
anywhere affected by the size of the bird? 

143. Originally the third part began thus: 

"I saw a something in the Sky 
No bigger than my fist, 
At first it seem'd a little speck," etc. 

In the next edition this was changed to the following: 

"So past a weary time; each throat 
Was parch'd and glaz'd each eye. 
When, looking westward, I beheld 
A something in the sky." 

148. Something: Notice the several stages of the growth of 
this something into a sail in 1. 161. 

152. I wist: Wist is the preterite of wite, know. It is confused 
with the adverb iwis (A.-S. gewis), certainly, which was often 
written i wis in the old ballads; hence it came to be regarded 
as a pronoun and verb with the meaning / think, the meaning 
that Coleridge seems to intend in the preterite. 

157. Black lips baked: Cf. Lamentations, V. 10: "Our skin 
was black like an oven because of the terrible famine." 

164. Gramercy: An interjection of mingled thankfulness and 
sui'prise; grand merci, great thanks. 

164. They for joy did grin: "I took the thought of 'grinning 
for joy' from poor Burnet's remark to me, when we had climbed 
to the top of Plinfimmon, and were nearly dead with thirst. 
We could not speak from the constriction, till we found a little 
puddle under a stone. He said to me, 'You grinned like an 
idiot!' He had done the ssune." — Table Talk, May 31, 1830. 

NOTES 127 

166. As they were drinking: As if they were drinking. An 
effective touch of reahsm. 

169-170. Compare the skipper's description of the specter 
ship in Longfellow's Ballad of Carmilhan: 

"'There is a Specter Ship,' quoth he, 

A ship of the Dead that sails the sea, 
And is called the Carmilhan. 

" 'A ghostly ship, with a ghostly crew, 

In tempest she appears; 
And before the gale, or against the gale, 
She sails without a rag of sail. 

Without a helmsman steers.'" 

Compare also the legend of The Flying Dutchman, and Captain 
Marryat's tale. The Phantom Ship. 

174. Broad : Why 6road bright Sun? 

178. Heaven's Mother: The sailor prays to the Madonna. 
Find other illustrations of his rehgion. 

184. Gossameres: Cobwebs that float in the air; literally, 
goose-summer, in allusion to the downy character of the film, 
and to the time of its appearance (see Cen. Die). According 
to legend, these fine floating threads are the ravelings of the 
Virgin's winding-sheet, which fell away on her ascension into 
heaven. An old spelling, gossamere, gave Coleridge his rhyme. 

185-189. In place of this stanza the two following were in 
the original: 

"Are those her naked ribs, which fleck'd 
The sun that did behind them peer? 
And are those two all, all the crew, 
That woman and her fleshless Pheere? 

''His bones were black with many a crack, 
All black and bare, I ween; 
Jet black and bare, save where with rust 
Of mouldy damps and charnel crust 
They're patched with purple and green." 

The first stanza was corrected as follows in 1800: 

128 NOTES 

"Are those her Ribs, thro' which the Sun 
Did peer, as thro' a grate? 
And are those two all, all her crew, 
That Woman, and her Mate?" 

Another correction has been found in manuscript: 

"Are those her ribs which fleck 'd the Sun 
Like bars of a dungeon grate? 
Are those two all, all of the crew. 
That woman and her mate?" 

193-194. These two Hnes in 1798 were: 

"And she is far liker Death than he; 
Her flesh makes the still air cold." 

Many find an allusion to these lines in the Epitaph on himself, 
composed in 1833: 

"O, lift one thought in prayer for S. T. C; 
That he who many a year with toil of breath 
Found death in life, may here find life in death." 

193. Night-mare: An incubus, or evil spirit, according to 
popular belief, that oppresses one in sleep; A.-S. mara, dream, 
vision, or incubus. Coleridge creates a new type of this spirit. 
Cf. King Lear, III, 4, 126. 

197. I've won, I've won: The editions of 1817 and 1829 read, 
Vve, I've won, manifestly a typographical error, and so regarded 
by Dykes Campbell. 

198. Whistles thrice: The mystical number again. In Mac- 
beth, I, 3, 33, the witches' charm is "wound up" by threes; 
similarly Sabrina in Milton's Comiis works her charm upon the 
Lady, "Thrice upon thy finger's tip," etc. Cf. Kuhla Khan, 1. 51. 

195-198. After this stanza there came in the original another 

stanza of gruesome details which Coleridge's maturing judgment 

of artistic propriety led him to excise: 


"A gust of wind sterte up behind 

And whistled thro' his bones; 

Thro' the holes of his eyes and the hole of his mouth 

Half-whistles and half-groans." 

Of this and similar excisions Swinburne says: "Coleridge 

NOTES 129 

rejected from his work the horrors, while retaining the terrors, 
of death." 

In place of the next three stanzas these two stood in the 
original version: 

" With never a whisper in the Sea 

Off darts the Specter-ship; 
While clomb above the Eastern bar 
The horned Moon, with one bright Star 

Almost atween the tips. 

"One after one by the horned Moon 
(Listen, O Stranger! to me) 
Each turn'd his face with a ghastly pang 
And ciirs'd me with his ee." 

199-200. These lines have been much admired for their 
descriptive power, presenting so perfectly the phenomenal 
features of the tropical sunset. liOwell says of this stanza, as 
illustrating Coleridge's expression: "Coleridge's words have the 
unashamed nakedness of Scripture, of the Eden of diction ere 
the voluble serpent had entered it. . . . When he is well inspired, 
as in his best poetry he commonly is, he gives us the very 
quintessence of perception, the clearly crystalized precipitation 
of all that is most precious in the ferment of impression after 
the impertinent and obtrusive particulars have evaporated from 
the memory. It is the pure visual ecstasy disengaged from the 
confused and confusing material that gave it birth. It seems 
the very beatitude of artless simpHcity, and is the most finished 
product of art." 

Note the poetic expression in the gloss, "the courts of the 
Sun," for the tropics. 

201-211. Dykes Campbell gives in. his notes an undated 
recast of these lines, which was found among some papers of 
Coleridge dated variously 1806, 1807, and 1810: 

"With never a whisper on the main 
Off shot the specter ship: 
And stifled words and groans of pain 

Mix'doneach trembling ,- 
.viix a on eacn ^lurmurmg ^ 

130 NOTES 

"And we look'd round, and we look'd up, 
And fear at our hearts, as at a cup, 

The Life-blood seem'd to sip — 
The sky was dull, and dark the night. 
The helmsman's face by his lamp gleam 'd bright, 

From the sails the dews did drip — 
Till clomb above the Eastern Bar, 
The horned moon, with one bright star 

Within its nether tip." 

A study of the changes made in the description of the specter 
ship will show Coleridge's good sense in cutting out details of 
mere horror that repel, rather than stimulate, the artistic 

203. Looked sideways up: Explain the touch of nature in 
these words. 

207. By his lamp: The lamp over the compass that keeps 
the needle and card illuminated. 

209. Clomb: The old strong pretirite of climb, still used in 
poetry. Bar is the line of the horizon. 

211. Within the nether tip: Why is it impossible to see a 
star within the tip of the moon? 

212. The star-dogged Moon: "It is a common superstition 
among sailors that something evil is about to happen whenever 
a star dogs the moon." — Coleridge's MS. note. 

218. Thimip — limip: Explain the pecuHar appropriateness 
of this rather homely rhyme. 

222. And every soul, etc.: This quasi corporeal conception of 
the departing soul is thoroughly medieval. Compare Rossetti's 
use of it in The Blessed Damozel and Sister Helen. 

223. "The return to the albatross idea here, which ends 
every part, is admirably managed and with a fine surprise." — 

226-227. " For the two last lines of this stanza I am indebted 
to Mr. Wordsworth." — Coleridge's note. 

232-235. The expression of the utter desolation of loneliness 
in these wonderfully simple lines is probably unequaled in 
English poetry. How is the effect produced? Compare Byron's 

NOTES 181 

description of Bonnivard in The Prisoner of Chillon. The third 
hne was originally: 

"And Christ would take no pity on " 

236. So beautiful: Charles Lamb objected to this word, re- 
marking that they were merely "Vagabonds, all covered with 
pitch." But this is to miss the meaning entirely. To the 
mariner anything human, with all its possibilities, is beautiful 
in contrast with the "slimy things" around him. Note the 
effect of the punctuation in the last line. He drops in the 
remark, "and so did I," as an afterthought, including his own 
miserable self, as it were, among the "slimy things" that "hve 

242. Rotting deck was at first eldritch deck. 

245. Or ever: Before ever. Notice the bad rhyme, gusht — 

250. What is the effect of this long anapestic line, with its 

264-271. Notice the poetic beauty of the gloss here. "It is 
characteristic," says Stopford Brooke, "of the quaint fantasy 
which belonged to his nature that he puts the thoughts which 
lift the whole scene into the realm of the imagination into the 
prose gloss at the side — and it is perhaps the loveliest little 
thought in all his writings." 

273. Water-snakes: Professor Dowden remarks that Cole- 
ridge's "strange creatures of the sea" are not "those hideous 
worms which a vulgar dealer in the supernatural might have 
invented. Seen in a great calm by the light of the moon these 
creatures of God are beautiful in the joy of their life." 

275-281. Compare Coleridge's description of a real night 
scene at sea, in his Letters (Vol. I, p. 260) : ''The ocean is a noble 
thing by night; a beautiful white cloud of foam at momentary 
intervals roars and rushes by the side of the vessel, and stars 
of flame dance and sparkle and go out in it, and every now and 
then light detachments of foam dart away from the vessel's 
side with their galaxies of stars and scour out of sight like a 

132 NOTES 

Tartar troop over a wilderness. What these stars are I cannot 
say; the sailors say they are fish spawn, which is phosphorescent." 

279. Rich attire: Richer because in the shadow. 

284-285. "That one self-centered in crude egoism should be 
purified and converted through a new sympathy with suffering 
and sorrow is a common piece of morality; this purification 
through sympathy with joy is a piece of finer and higher doc- 
trine." — Dowden. 

289. So free: Thus made free. 

288-291. Here is the climax of the story. The terrible 
penance of the mariner in its worst features has been accom- 
plished. His hard heart that knew not love for bird, or beast, 
or other living thing outside himself has been transformed. 
Through a new love, revealed to him through suffering, he is 
saved. The moral contained in the albatross motive, and 
stated at the end of the poem, begins here to be unfolded. 

290. The albatross fell off: The similar incident in Pilgrim's 
Progress will be recalled. 

292-296. Oh sleep, etc.: Five years later he wrote in The 
Pains of Sleep: 

"Sleep, the wide blessing, seemed to me 
Distemper's worst calamity." 

In a letter to Southey in the same year he writes: "I truly 
dread to sleep. It is no shadow with me, but substantial 
misery foot-thick, that makes me sit by my bedside of a morning 
and cry." Very soon after the writing of the Ancient Mariner 
Coleridge's health and habits went to rack and ruin under the 
influence of opium. (See Notes, p. 144.) 

Look up some of the fine passages about sleep in other poets, 
especially in Macbeth, II, 2, 37, and 2 Henry IV, III, 1, 5, and 
Tennyson's Lotos-Eaters. 

297. Silly: Empty, useless. A.-S. scelig, blessed, happy; later, 
simple, innocent; then foolish, weak, etc. 

308. Blessed: Happy in the release from the horrors of his 
living condition; or possibly a redeemed spirit in heaven, since 
the mariner's redemption had now begun. 

NOTES 133 

314. Sheen: Bright; here used as an adjective; see 1. 56. 
What are the fire-flags f Notice the pleonasm. 

325. With never a jag: In a violent storm the usual jagged 
or forked lightning may change to sheet lightning, as it is called, 
which seems to be what Coleridge has in mind. 

335. Wordsworth says that he suggested the navigating of the 
ship by the reanimated bodies. 

352. Sweet sounds: The spirits alone are ahve, and they 
make music as they pass from the bodies which they have just 

369-372. Study this beautiful passage carefully and account 
for the selection of each particular detail. 

372. Here these four stanzas followed in the version of 1798; 

"Listen, O hsten, thou Wedding-guest! 
'Marinere! thou hast thy will: 
For that, which comes out of thine eye, doth make 
My body and soul to be still.' 

" Never sadder tale was told 
To a man of woman born : 
Sadder and wiser thou Wedding-guest 1 
Thou'lt rise to-morrow morn. 

" Never sadder tale was heard 
By a man of woman born: 
The Marineres all return 'd to work 
As silent as beforne. 

" The Marineres all 'gan pull the ropes, 
But look at me they n'old: 
Thought I, I am as thin as air — 
They cannot me behold." 

377-382. The gloss here appears to be inconsistent with the 
gloss at 11. 103-106, according to which the ship had already 
reached the Line. 

394. Have not to: Am not able to. 

395. Living life: Natural life, complete consciousness, in con- 
trast with life during the swoon, which was a kind of dead 

134 NOTES 

407. Honey-dew: A sweet substance found in minute drops 
like dew on the leaves of trees and plants. When so abundant 
as to drip from the leaves it is called manna. Compare Kubla 
Khan : 

" For he on honey-dew hath fed 
And drunk the milk of Paradise." 

409. Will do: "Observe that it is not shall do. The speaker 
merely knows of the punishment. A higher power inflicts it." 
— Bates. 

414. Still as a slave, etc.: Dykes Campbell thinks that this 
line is borrowed from Coleridge's own Osorio 

"O woman! 
I have stood silent like a slave before thee." 

And the rest of the stanza from a passage in Sir John Davies's 
Orchestra, a Poeme on Dauncing. 

"For lo the sea that fleets about the land, 
And like a girdle clips her solid waist, 
Music and measure both doth understand: 
For his great crystal eye is always cast 
Up to the Moon, and on her fixed fast. " 

422-429. The possible suggestion for this home-coming of 
the mariner in a trance has been found in Captain James's 
Voyage (see note, 11. 51-70) where the narrator expresses his 
lack of faith in the wild stories of "Portingals and Spaniards' 
who have come out of the South Sea, "who never speak of any 
difficulties: as shoalde water, Ice, nor sight of land; but as if 
they had been brought home in a dreame or engine. 

446-451. Superstitious fear and dread of this kind would 
seem to be a fundamental quality of human nature, so universal 
is it. Charles Lamb quotes this stanza in his essay, Witches, 
and Other Night Fears, and thus comments: "That the kind of 
fear here treated of is purely spiritual, that it is strong in pro- 
portion as it is objectless upon earth, that it predominates in 
the period of sinless infancy, are difficulties, the solution of 
which might afford some probable insight into our antemun- 

NOTES 135 

dane condition, and a peep at least into the shadow land of 

455. A light breeze reveals its presence on the surface of 
water by ripples and by dark streaks. 

465. Note the order of the details in this stanza, and compare 
with 11. 21-24. 

467. Countree: This use of the word with accent on the final 
syllable is an imitation of the common usage in the old ballads, 
as in Chevy-Chase: 

" For a better man of heart, nare of hande 
Was not in all the north count re." 

470-471. Make this vision a reality, or if it is only a dream, 
let me sleep on forever. 

475. Shadow of the Moon: The moon's reflection. After this 
stanza came in the version of 1798 the five following stanzas: 

"The moonlight bay was white all o'er. 
Till rising from the same, 
Full many shapes, that shadows were, 
Like as of torches came. 

"A little distance from the prow 
Those dark-red shadows were; 
But soon I saw that my own flesh 
Was red as in a glare. 

"I turn'd my head in fear and dread, 
And by the holy rood. 
The bodies had advanc'd, and now 
Before the mast they stood. 

"They lifted up their stiff right-arms, 
They held them strait and tight; 

And each right-arm burnt like a torch, 
A torch that's borne upright. 

Their stony eye-balls glitter'd on 
In the red and smoky light. 

"I pray'd and turn'd my head away 
Forth looking as before. 
There was no breeze upon the bay, 
No wave against the shore. 

136 NOTES 

478. Pater, while speaking of the unity of the poem, remarks: 
"How pleasantly, how reassuringly, the whole night-mare story 
itself is made to end, among the clear fresh sounds and hghts 
of the bay, where it began." 

479. Why steady weathercock? 

482. The mariner is looking away from the ship, and so sees 
the reflection of the seraph-hand on the water. 

490. Seraph-man: The seraphs are the "burning or flaming" 
angels, who surround the throne of Jehovah. 

494. As signals: A ship coming to harbor at night signals 
for a pilot. 

503. Here followed originally this stanza: 

"Then vanish'd all the lovely lights: 

The bodies rose anew: 
With silent pace, each to his place, 

Came back the ghastly crew. 
The wind, that shade nor motion made, 

On me alone it blew. 

Another form of this stanza was found written upon the mar- 
gin of a copy of the first edition : 

"Then vanish'd all the lovely lights, 
The spirits of the air. 
No souls of mortal men were they, 
But spirits bright and fair." 

512. Shrieve: Obsolete form of shrive. A priest shrives a 
penitent when he hears confession and grants absolution. 

524. Trow: Believe, think. The phrase, / trow, in expressions 
of surprise, is nearly equivalent to / wonder. 

535. Ivy-tod: Ivy-bush. 

560-565. The terrifying appearance of the mariner is described 
indirectly by the effects it produces. 

586. I pass, etc.: Look up and compare the legend of The 
Wandering Jew. 

592. By the appearance of the wedding-guest several times 
throughout the poem, and this return at the end to the marriage- 
feast, the artistic unity of the poem is secured. 

NOTES 137 

612. He prayeth well, etc: Notice the effect of the repetition 
of loveth in emphasizing the concluding idea of the poem. 

617. "And then comes the ineffable, half-childish, half-divine 
simplicity of those soft moralizings at the end, so strangely differ- 
ent from the tenor of the tale, so wonderfully perfecting its vision- 
ary strain. After all, the poet seems to say, after this weird 
excursion into the very deepest, awful heart of the seas and myste- 
ries, here is your child's moral, a tender little half trivial sentiment, 
yet profound as the blue depths of heaven. This unexpected 
gentle conclusion brings our feet back to the common soil with a 
bewildered sweetness of relief and soft quiet after the prodigious 
strain of mental excitement which is like nothing else we can re- 
member in poetry. The effect is one rarely produced, and which 
few poets have the strength and daring to accomplish, sinking 
from the highest notes of spiritual music to the absolute simplicity 
of exhausted nature. Thus we are set down on the soft grass, 
in a tender bewilderment, out of the clouds." — Mrs. OliphanVs 
Literary History of England. "He combined one of the highest 
lessons of advanced civihzation, one of the last results of spiritual 
perception — the idea of love toward life in any form — • with the 
animistic beliefs and supernatural fancies of the crude ages of the 
senses." — Woodberry's Makers of Literature. 

This moral was repeated by Coleridge in a couplet appended, 
in 1817, to The Raven, a poem written about the same time, 
and with the same theme as that of the Ancient Mariner. The 
raven's family is destroyed by unfeeling men, and when they 
in turn are shipwrecked the raven rejoices. To the closing 
words, "revenge was sweet," Coleridge added in parenthesis: 

"We must not think so, but forget and forgive, 
And what Heaven gives life to, we'll still let it live!" 

The same lesson of love and sympathy for lower creatures is 
expressed in the early poem To a Young Ass. This sympathetic 
interest in the creatures of nature was common to Wordsworth 
and the other poets of the new era, and was entering as a per- 
manent element inta literature. 

138 NOTES 

"I conceive," says Rossetti, "the leading point about his 
work is its human love, and the leading point about his career 
the sad fact of how little of it was devoted to that work." So 
Wordsworth in his tribute to Coleridge at the close of The 
Prelude says: 

"O capacious soul! 
Placed on this earth to love and understand. 
And from thy presence shed the light of love." 


3. Tu-whit: Compare the Song in Lovers Labor's Lost, V. 2, 
927; also Tennyson's second song to The Owl. 

12-13. The keynote of mystery and superstition is sounded 
here at the very beginning of the poem. The still night air is 
filled with evil omen, and strange things are surely coming to 

23. Christabel: "With the most exquisite feeling for woman- 
hood in its general features, he seems to have been incapable 
of drawing strongly the features of any individual woman. . . . 
Even Christabel is a figure somewhat too faintly drawn, a 
figure expressing indeed the beauty, innocence, and gentleness 
of maidenhood, but without any of the traits of a distinctive 
personality. All his other imaginings of women are exquisite 
abstractions, framed by purely feminine elements, but repre- 
senting Woman rather than being themselves veritable women." 
— Dowden's New Studies in Literature. 

49-52. In Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal, March 7, 1798, 
we find the prose of this passage: "William and I drank tea at 
Coleridge's. A cloudy sky. Observed nothing particularly in- 
teresting — the distant prospect obscured. One only leaf upon 
the -top of a tree — the sole remaining leaf — danced round and 
round like a rag blown by the wind." 

50-52. Notice the change in the movement of the verse. 

54. Jesu Maria: Mary [mother] of Jesus. 

58-65. This passage as first published read thus: 

NOTES 139 

"There she sees a damsel bright 
Drest in a silken robe of white; 
Her neck, her feet, her arms were bare, 
And the jewels disordered in her hair." 

66. I guess: Is this the so-called Yankee guess? 
88. In a MS. copy of the poem this line reads: 

"And twice we cross'd the shade of night." 

Coleridge evidently concluded that a ride of two days and 
one night was quite enough for the credulity of Christabel. 
104-122. This passage in 1816 was as follows: 

"Then Christabel stretch'd forth her hand 
And comforted fair Geraldine, 
Saying, that she should command 
The service of Sir Leohne; 
And straight be convey 'd, free from thrall, 
Back to her noble father's hall. 

"So up she rose, and forth they pass'd. 
With hurrying steps, yet nothing fast; 
Her lucky stars the lady blest. 
And Christabel she sweetly said — 
All our household are at rest, 
Each one sleeping in his bed; 
Sir Leoline is weak in health, 
And may not well awaken 'd be; 
So to my room we'll creep in stealth, 
And you to-night must sleep with me." 

In one MS. copy is found smiling stars instead of lucky and 
gracious stars. Also in 1. 116 is at rest, and in the next hne a cell 
for the cell. 

125. A little door: The wicket, a small door for every-day 
use within the large door or gate of a cathedral or castle. 

132. Over the threshold: In chapter 15 of The Abbot one 
of the characters is made to say: "Reverend father, hast thou 
never heard that there are spirits powerful to rend the walls of 
a castle asunder when once admitted, which yet cannot enter 
the house unless they are invited, nay, dragged over the thresh- 
old." To this passage Scott appends a note in which he says: 

140 NOTES 

"There is a popular belief respecting evil spirits, that they 
cannot enter an inhabited house unless invited, nay, dragged 
over the threshold . There is an interesting instance of the same 
superstition in the Tales of the Genii." He then suggests an 
oriental origin of the superstition. 

152. Scritch: Screech; so scritch-owl, for screech-owl. Ben 
Jonson has "the scritching owl." 

158. But when the lady passed, etc.: "With what exquisite 
delicacy are all these hints of the true character of this stranger 
imagined — the difficulty of passing the threshold, the dread 
and incapacity of prayer, the moaning of the old mastiff in his 
sleep, the rekindling of the dying embers as she passes, the 
influence of the lamp 'fastened to the angel's feet.' . . . After 
the notion of evil has once been suggested to the reader, the 
external beauty and great mildness of demeanor ascribed to 
the stranger produce only the deeper feeling of terror, and 
they contrast, in a manner singularly impressive, with the small 
revelations which every now and then take place of what is 
concealed beneath them." — Blackwood's Magazine, Vol. 6 
(cited by Huntington) . 

167. "This beautiful line was added in 182S." — Campbell. 

175-183. Traill thinks that "nowhere out of Keats's Eve of 
St. Agnes is there any 'interior' to match that of Christabel's 
chamber, done as it is in little more than half a dozen lines." 

191. Cordial wine: This was at first spicy wine; an "unfortu- 
nate change," says Campbell. 

205. Compare the incantations of the witches in Macbeth, 

"Weary se'n nights nine times nine 
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine." 

219. 'Tis over now: Instead of these strong words, in two of 
the extant MSS. are the prosy words Em better now. 

252. Behold: There has been much curious speculation here 
as to what "sight" the poet intended the reader to imagine. 
But it is the refinement of romance to leave a mystery unex- 
plained. To probe the text for the exact facts — "'twere to 

' NOTES 141 

consider too curiously, to consider so." Some such feeling 
apparently prompted tl^ poet to omit a line which in one of 
his MSS. follows 1. 252:- 

"Hideous, deformed, and pale of hue." 

Says Dowden: "Coleridge preferred to leave a line without a 
rhyme -i^ther than retain words which define a horror better 
shadowed in mystery." A writer in Notes and Queries (Vol. I, 
324) says; "What Christabel saw is plain enough. The lady 
was a being like Duessa in Spenser; a horrible looking witch 
who could, to a certain degree, put on an appearance of beauty. 
The difference is that this lady had both forms at once, the one 
in her face, the other concealed." 

254-262. For these nine lines there were only three in 1816: 

"And she is to sleep by Christabel. 

She took two paces, and a stride. 
And lay down by the maiden's side." 

306. Tairn: A Scotch form of tarn, a small mountain lake. 

341. Beads: To tell one's beads is to say one's prayers, count- 
ing them off by the beads of the rosary. Tell is count, as in 
Milton's U Allegro, the shepherd "tells his tale [of sheep] under 
the hawthorne in the dale." 

344. From Bratha Head, etc.: The allusions here and in the 
following lines to localities in the Lake District indicate Cole- 
ridge's change of residence. He was living at Nether Stowey 
when the First Part was written. 

348-359. A play of the poet's fancy with the echo of the 
matin bell. 

351. Ghyll: More properly gill', a narrow ravine, especially 
with rapid stream running through it. 

408-426. In a letter to Thomas Poole, Coleridge called these 
lines "the best and sweetest lines I ever wrote." There is a 
strong suspicion that the passage commemorates some one of 
Coleridge's broken friendships, most probably that of Southey, 
from whom he became alienated soon after the collapse of 

142 NOTES 

pantisocracy. A temporary alienation of his life-long friend 
Charles Lamb would also account for the passage. See footnote 
in Vol. II, of the Letters, p. 609. 

Walter Pater says: "I suppose these lines leave almost every 
reader with a quickened sense of the beauty and compass of 
human feeling; and it is the sense of such richness and beauty, 
which, in spite of his 'dejection,' in spite of that burden of his 
morbid lassitude, accompanies Coleridge himself through life." 
Campbell speaks of these lines as being the most famous in 
Christahel, "perhaps because they bring us out of the surround- 
ing fairyland." Says the poet Rossetti: "The passage on sundered 
friendship is one of the masterpieces of the language, but no 
doubt was written quite separately and then fitted into Chris- 

426. Been. The common English pronunciation must be used 
here for the rhyme. 

459. Note the different expressions of the snake motive 
introduced into this part of the poem. 

489. Solemn vest: Rich, impressive clothes. Vest is vestment, 
garment. Wordsworth has the "radiant vest" of the morn. 

493. Sir Leoline addresses his harper sometimes in the second 
person, and sometimes in the third. In his excitement he an- 
ticipates the ride in imagination. 

583. "It is that description of the serpent-look of the witch's 
eyes which, on being read in a company at Lord Byron's, is 
said to have caused Shelley to faint" (quoted by Huntington 
from Reed's Lectures on the British Poets). 

656-677. This "Conclusion" apparently has no relation to 
the poem whatever. The lines were sent to Southey in a letter 
of May 6, 1801, and unquestionably refer to the poet's little 
Hartley, of whom he writes in the letter. Immediately following 
the verses is this explanatory comment: "A very metaphysical 
account of fathers calling their children rogues, rascals, and 
little varlets, etc." Ernest Hartley Coleridge says: "It is 
possible that they were intended to form part of a distinct 
poem in the meter of Christahel, or, it may be, they are the 

NOTES 143 

sole survival of an attempted third part of the ballad itself. 
It is plain, however, that the picture is from the life, that the 
little child, the limber elf, is the four-year-old Hartley." 


The passage which Coleridge says he had just read in Purchas, 
his Pilgrimage (1626), when he dreamed this musical dream, 
reads thus: "In Zamdu did Cublai Can build a stately Palace, 
encompassing sixteene miles of plaine ground with a wall, 
wherein are fertile Meddowes, pleasant Springs, delightfull 
Streames, and all sorts of beasts of chase and game, and in the 
middest thereof a sumptuous house of pleasure." 

1 . Khan: The title of a sovereign or chief in Tartar countries. 
The ''Great Khan" is the Emperor of China, or Cathay. Kublai 
Khan was emperor of China in the last part of the thirteenth 
century; the celebrated traveler, Marco Polo, spent some years 
at his court. Notice the euphonious word made out of Zamdu. 

3. Alph: A river existing only in the poet's dream. 

10. Cf. Bryant's Thanatopsis: "The hills Rock-ribbed and 
ancient as the sun." 

13. Cedarn: Poetic form. Tennyson has, in Arabian Alights, 
"The carven cedarn doors," and Milton has, in Com us: 

"And west winds with musky wing 
About the cedarn alleys fling 
Nard and cassia's balmy smells." 

15. Waning moon: In popular superstition the waning moon 
is considered to have an evil influence, and the full or new 
moon to be the most auspicious period for beginning any en- 
terprise; thus the proper time for killing animals, gathering 
herbs, sowing seed, etc., is determined. 

25. Note the effect of alliteration in picturing the slow move- 
ment of the stream. 

51. Round him thrice: Witches and magicians always per- 
form their enchantments with the magic number three, or com- 
binations of three, as in Macbeth, I, 3, the "weird sisters" 
wind up their charm: 

144 NOTES 

"Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine, 
And thrice again to make up nine." 

53. Honey-dew: In plain prose, honey-dew is "the sugary 
secretion from the leaves of plants, occurring most frequently 
in hot weather. It usually appears as small glistening drops, 
but if particularly abundant may drip from the leaves in con- 
siderable quantities, when it has been called manna'' {Cen. Die.). 


This poem was first published in the pamphlet with Christabel 
and Kubla Khan. At the end of the prefatory explanation of 
Kubla Khan Coleridge added this remark: "As a contrast to 
this vision I have annexed a fragment of a very different char- 
acter, describing with equal fidelity the dream of pain and 
disease." Thus we have, probably, the contrasted pictures of 
the pleasures and the pains of opium. The poem was written 
in 1803. Passages in the Letters contain the substance of the 
poem. To one friend he writes: "I had walked 263 miles in 
eight days, in the hope of forcing the disease [gout] into the 
extremities. . . . During the whole journey three nights out 
of four I have fallen asleep struggling and resolving to lie awake, 
and, awaking, have blest the scream which delivered me from 
the reluctant sleep." To Southey he writes: "My spirits are 
dreadful, owing entirely to the horrors of every night — I truly 
dread to sleep. It is no shadow with me, but substantial 
misery foot-thick, that makes me sit by my bedside of a morning 
and cry," He then quotes the verses and adds: "They are, 
doggerel as they may be, a true portrait of my nights." 

35. Sleep, the wide blessing: Cf. Ancient Mariner, 11. 292-295. 

51-52. In a letter Coleridge speaks of himself as one "who 
from my childhood have had no avarice, no ambition, whose 
very vanity in my vainest moments was, nine-tenths of it, the 
desire and delight, and necessity of loving and of being beloved." 
Love is a constantly recurring theme in his poetry, the underlying 
moral substance of much of it, as in the Ancient Mariner (see 

NOTES 145 

note on 11. 614-617); the word is contained in the titles of eleven 

of his poems. In Religious Musings, with transcendental fervor 

he says: 

"There is one Mind, one omnipresent Mind, 

Omnific. His most holy name is Love." 


The grand old ballad may be found in Percy's Reliques. Cole- 
ridge seems to have quoted carelessly, or from some modernized 
version. The stanza is given by Percy as follows: 

"Late, late yestreen I saw the new moone 
Wi' the auld moone in her arme; 
And I feir, I feir, my deir master, 
That we will come to harme." 

The preceding stanza ends with the line: 

"For I feir a deadlie storme." 

6. Moans: In place of this word the original had drones. 

13. Foretelling, etc.: When the obscured part of the moon is 
faintly outlined within the horns of the new moon, it is supposed 
to indicate coming storms. 

25. Here the original has 0, Edmund! instead of Lady! 
and so throughout the poem. (See Introduction, p. 39). 

36-37. Between these lines was originally this line: 

"A boat becalm 'd! a lovely sky-canoe!" 

In the first draft of the ode it read "Thy own sweet sky-canoe," 
in allusion to the Prologue to Wordsworth's Peter Bell. 

72. Originally "We, we ourselves rejoice." 

47-48. "There are few lines in the loftier walks of English 
poetry better known than these." — Alfred Ainger. Compare 
Wordsworth's line: 

"By our own spirits we are deified," 

in Resolution and Independence (The Leech-Gatherer), a poem 
written in the same year as Coleridge's ode. 

146 NOTES 

76-93. These lines picture with pathetic accuracy the condi- 
tion of Coleridge during the period of splendid creative impulse 
and glorious promise at Stowey, in contrast with his condition 
after he settled at Keswick. The sudden change was a mystery 
to his friends at the time, as it is in large measure still to all 
who probe the matter. The only explanation is the opium- 
eating, in which he indulged for several years before his friends 
discovered the truth; and this explanation is by no means 
satisfactory. The problem is perhaps more psychological than 

89. Haply by abstruse research, etc: In a letter written in 
July, 1802, Coleridge says: "Sickness and some other and 
worse afflictions first forced me into downright metaphysics. 
For I believe that by nature I have more of the poet in me. 
In a poem written during that dejection, to Wordsworth, and 
the greater part of a private nature, I thus expressed the thought 
in language more forcible than harmonious." Then 11. 76-93 are 
quoted. In a letter to Southey written in the same month he 
says: "As to myself, all my poetic genius (if ever I really possessed 
any genius, and it was not rather a mere general aptitude of 
talent, and quickness in imitation) is gone, and I have been 
fool enough to suffer deeply in my mind, regretting the loss, 
which I attribute to my long and exceedingly severe metaphysi- 
cal investigations, and these partly to ill-health, and partly to 
private affliction which rendered any subjects, immediately 
connected with feeling, a source of pain and disquiet to me." 

It is significant that 11. 87-93, though written in 1802, were 
not printed until the second appearance of the poem in Sibylline 
Leaves, 1817. 

93. Habit of my soul: Originally "Temper of my soul." 

94-95. The Morning Post version has for these lines: 

"O wherefore did I let it haunt my mind, 
This dark distressful dream?" 

100. Mountain-tairn: "Tairn, a small lake, generally, if not 
always, applied to the lakes up in the m.ountains, and which 

NOTES 147 

are the feeders of those in the valleys. This address to the 
storm-wind will not appear extravagant to those who have 
heard it at night, and in a mountainous country." — Coleridge's 

104. Month of showers: As the sub-title shows, the poem was 
written in April, when the storms among the mountains about 
Keswick, as he says, keep Devil's Christmas. 

120. As Otway's self: This was at first "As thou thyself 
had'st framed, etc.," a compliment to his friend Wordsworth, 
introducing the allusion in the next hne to Wordsworth's Lucy 
Gray. Thomas Otway (1651-1685), the dramatist, was famous 
for his pathos and tenderness, especially in the popular play 
The Orphan. 

121-122. To make the allusion here to Wordsworth's poem 
perfectly clear he copies one line, "Upon the lonesome wild." 

126-139. This last stanza, or strophe, was very much changed 
in the second printing. The pronoun becomes feminine through- 
out, to adapt the address to the "Lady," and one line had to 
be omitted for the same reason, "O lofty Poet, full of life and 
love." But the most important change was the omission of 
five lines after 1. 133: 

"And sing his lofty song, and teach me to rejoice! 
O Edmund, friend of my devoutest choice, 
O raised from anxious dread and busy care. 
By the immenseness of the good and fair 
Which thou see'st everywhere." 

These lines describe with peculiar accuracy and condensation 
the tranquil and clear-visioned soul of Wordsworth; and there 
is implied the painful contrast of his optimism and freedom 
from "anxious dread" with Coleridge's troubled and dejected 
spirit. Why these lines and the other allusions to Wordsworth 
were omitted can only be surmised. Canon Ainger thinks that 
Coleridge "desired to conceal from the general reader some of 
the more painful personal allusions and contrasts discoverable 
in the original version." 

148 NOTES 


This poem was written in 1823 and first published in 1828. 
As first printed, the poem ended with line 38. The concluding 
lines were added in 1834, though probably composed in 1832, 
in which year they appeared separately in Blackwood's Magazine, 
entitled The Old Man's Si-gh. The first four lines, however, 
had an earlier existence, for in 1828 Coleridge wrote in an 
album thus: 

"Dew-drops are the gems of morning, 

But the tears of mournful eve; 
Where no hope is, life's a warning 

That only serves to make us grieve. 
As we creep feebly down life's slope. 

Yet courteous dame, accept this truth — 
Hope leaves not us, but we leave hope, 

And quench the inward light of youth." 

8. Cf . II Corinthians, V, 1 ; '' For we know that if our earthly 
house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of 
God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 

9. This body, etc.: From an early point in life Coleridge had 
suffered at frequent intervals intense pain from rheumatism, 
gout, and other ailments, which was at first the cause, and 
later perhaps in part the consequence, of the opium habit. 

12. Skiffs: Is this word appropriately applied to the water- 
craft described in these lines? 

29. Vesper-bell: The bell that calls to evening service or 
vespers, with which good church people end the day. Vesper 
is the evening star, Latin Hesperus. 

30. Masker: Literally one who takes part in an entertainment 
in which each person is disguised by wearing a mask. 

41. Where no hope is: Compare the little poem Work without 
Hope, quoted in the Introduction, and the longer poem, The 
Visionary Hope. Also note the modification of the thought in 
the album verses given above. 

45-49. In his old age, Benjamin Franklin once said: "By 
living twelve years beyond David's period I seem to have in- 

NOTES 149 

traded myself into the company of posterity, when I ought to 
have been abed and asleep." 


This dainty little song was first published in 1802 with the 
title: The Language of Birds: Lines spoken extempore to a little 
child in early spring. It has been set to music by J. M. Capes 
as Thx Song of the Birds, and by S. Marshall as / love and I love. 
It illustrates Coleridge's skillful and melodious use of the pure 
anapestic movement. 

7. But the lark, etc: This is a wonderfully epitomized de- 
scription of the lark's song. It should be compared with the 
elaborate descriptions in Shelley's To a Skylark, and Words- 
worth's two poems To a Skylark. 


This httle poem was at first embodied in a longer poem en- 
titled Recollection, which was printed in the ill-fated Watchman, 
April 2, 1796. It next appeared as a separate poem in the 
first collected edition of Coleridge's poems, 1797. Although 
written in sonnet form, it is a poor form of sonnet; it is neither 
Italian nor Enghsh, neither Miltonic nor Shaksperian. Cole- 
ridge never mastered the difficulties of the sonnet as did Words- 
worth, and he may have had a glimmering of his inability when 
he remarked in a letter, "I love sonnets; but upon my honor I do 
not love my sonnets." Indeed, in one of his prefaces he said: 
''The sonnet has been ever a favorite species of composition 
with me; but I am conscious that I have not succeeded in it." 
His natural expression was too diffuse and wayward to be 
bound down to the preciseness of form required by the perfect 
sonnet. This particular sonnet is in reality an imitation of 
Bowles's sonnet To the River Itchin, and is thus a testimonial 
to Coleridge's early admiration for this gentle sonneteer. (See 
Introduction.) A sonnet addressed To the Rev. W. L. Bowles 
begins with these lines of affluent praise: 

150 NOTES 

"My heart has thanked thee, Bowles, for those soft strains, 
That on the still air floating, tremblingly 
Waked in me Fancy, Love, and Sympathy." 

1. Native brook: Coleridge's birthplace was Ottery St. Mary, 
named evidently from the river flowing near by. It was never 
in reality a home to him after his ninth year, when he entered 
Christ's Hospital. 

3. For happy and mournful the original version had blissful 
and anguished. 

7-11. Several changes were made in these lines. In 1. 7 ray 
was blaze; line 9 read, thy margin's willowy maze; and 1. 11 ended 
with to the gaze, in place of On my way. 


1. Ye clouds, etc: In this splendid opening stanza we find 
the influences of natural scenery upon Coleridge as he was affected 
by them in his endless rambles among the Quantock Hills, 
within sight and hearing of the sounding sea. 

20. Still adored: Ever adored. 

26. Gratulation: Gratification, thankfulness. 

27. Unawed I sang, etc.: In both verse and prose Coleridge 
said many harsh things about his conservative countrymen, 
whom he regarded as little better than a "slavish band." For 
the first burst of his enthusiasm, see Destruction of the Bastile. 
See also Fears in Solitude, Ode to the Departing Year, and parts 
of Religious Musings. It will be remembered that in his last 
year at the university Coleridge engaged with Southey in the 
joint composition of a drama upon The Fall of Robespierre. 

28. Disenchanted nation: For centuries France had been in 
a kind of painful sleep of enchantment under the despotism of 
the Louis. 

30. The Monarchs marched, etc. : An Alliance of nearly all the 
great powers of Europe, including England, was formed against 
France, and was many times defeated by the triumphant forces 
of the new repubhc. 

NOTES 151 

43-46. Blasphemy's loud scream: Atheism was proclaimed 
truth by the Commune of Paris, the churches were closed or 
used for municipal purposes, and an infam.ous woman was 
installed in Notre Dame as the "Goddess of Reason." During 
the Reign of Terror the bloodiest and vilest human passions 
were dominant, producing a horrible reversal of civilized habits 
and principles. "It was the frightfulest thing ever born of 
Time," says Carlyle. 

53. Insupportably : Irresistibly; an unusual sense of the word, 
borrowed by Coleridge from Milton's Samson Agonistes, 136, 
as also the word ramp in the next line in the sense of leap or 
bound, which in many editions is incorrectly printed tramp. 

56. Domestic treason: While France was fighting the allied 
Powers there were reactionary disturbances in the government 
and rebellious risings among the peasants. 

66. Helvetia: The original Roman name for Switzerland. 

80. Champion of humankind: It was the avowed purpose of 
France, in her European wars, to carry freedom to other peoples 
living under despotic governments, a profession, however, that 
generally served merely to cloak the greed of conquest. 

86-88. Campbell says that in Coleridge's Commonplace Book 
is this entry: "At Genoa the word 'Liberty' is engraved on the 
chains of the galley-slaves and the doors of prisons." 





Cornelia Beare, Instructor in English, High School, 
White Plains, N. Y. 


Account of Coleridge and Southey as given in "Little Journeys 
to Homes of English Authors." 

Life of Coleridge, touching especially on friendships with 
Wordsworth and Southey. 

Reading of "Christ's Hospital" from "Essays of Elia." 

Study of ballad verse. Reading of one or two old ballads, as 
"Sir Patrick Spens," "Chevy Chase." Study of figures of 

Study of Poem. 

Read entire poem aloud to the class. Follow with these or 
similar questions : — ■ 

1. What is the purpose of the poem? 

2. Of what time does it tell? 

3. How is the supernatural used? 

4. Specify and describe briefly vivid pictures from it. 

5. What instances did you notice of peculiar or old-fashioned 
words or constructions? 

Detailed Work for Home Study. 

1. How is the setting given? 

2. What direction does the ship take? How is this shown? 

3. Write a dynamic description of the scene in the polar 



4. What makes the sight of the albatross so welcome to the 

5. What is the purpose of the lines 

"God save thee, Ancient Mariner, 
From the fiends that plague thee thus. 
Why lookst thou so?" 

6. Explain what the real sin of the Mariner was. 

7. Tell the action of the crew with regard to his deed and 
explain the significance of each step in it. 

8. Explain why they hung the albatross about his neck. 

9. Write a dynamic description of the scene in the equatorial 

10. From this part of the poem select examples of (a) meta- 
phor, (b) synecdoche, (c) exclamation, (d) antithesis, (e) hyper- 
bole, and show the value of each as it is used. 

11. Why do the crew suffer with the Ancient Mariner? 

12. What is there in his punishment which theirs lacks? 

13. Why is interrogation used in the description of the phan- 
tom ship? 

14. Why is the Ancient Mariner deprived of the power to 
pray? What do you consider the worst feature of this part of 
his punishment? 

15. What is signified by his blessing the water snakes? Why 
is it that, at this moment, the albatross falls from his neck? 

16. Describe the scene on his awakening. 

17. What value has the introduction of the supernatural 
here? What similes are used to describe the "sweet sounds" 
and the noise of the sails? Show the significance of each. 

18. How does the Mariner learn of the real nature of his sin; 
of his penance? 

19. Explain the simile in the stanza beginning "Like one 
that on a lonesome road." 

Compare it with the simile in the earlier stanza, 
"As who pursued with yell and blow." 

20. Explain why interrogation is used in the stanza 


"Oh dream of ... is this indeed" 

21. Describe the scene as the ship entered the bay, bringing 
in what you consider the strongest impression given by it. 

22. How is the supernatural element used in part 7? 

23. What is the effect on the three of the Mariner's appear- 
ance? What do you consider the most effective detail in telling 
of this effect? 

24. How does the Ancient Mariner learn the full nature of 
his punishment? What is it? 

25. What is the message the Mariner gives to the wedding 

Verse Structure. 

1. Select examples of feminine or double endings, and tell 
the value. 

2. Pick out all stanzas that vary from the ordinary ballad 
stanza, and explain what you believe to be the reason for this 

3. Select examples of run-on lines; is the proportion greater 
of end-stop or run-on hnes? 

4. Select examples of onomatopoeia; of use of meter to further 
the thought of the line. 

5. Select examples of the use of obsolete words or construc- 
tions which help to produce the effect that this is an old ballad. 

6. Select three stanzas which you consider especially poetical; 
specify what in them has led you to choose them. 

General Varied Questions. 

1. Explain what you consider to be the lesson of the poem. 

2. Explain in detail the nature of the Mariner's punishment 
and show how it fitted his sin. 

3. Give reasons for or against the statement that the Mariner 
deserved all his punishment. 

4. Explain the punishment of the crew; give reasons for or 
against the statement that they were really as guilty as the 
Mariner, and should have been punished accordingly. 


5. Narrate the circumstances under which the Mariner first 
told his story. 

6. Discuss Coleridge's use of the Supernatural in this poem. 

7. Discuss Coleridge's ability to describe vividly; to tell of 
an incident graphically. 

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